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THE ASSAULT ON MOUNT EVEREST 1922 Bruce 2002 reprint, New
By Bruce. C.G.
Price: $24.95


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New Delhi, 2002 [1923] 339 pages. B&W photographs. Maps. This impressive book contains the account of the second British Everest expedition in 1922. This expedition featured two assault parties. The first contained Mallory, Norton and Somervell and reached an altitude of 8225 metres. The second contained Finch and Bruce and reached 8321 metres.

This book is the second of an impressive trio of books containing the official narratives of various British expeditions of 1921, 1922 and 1924 attempting to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The other two books (also published in India) are: Mount Everest: The Reconnaissance, 1921 and The Fight forEverest: 1924. New Paperback.

Contents: INTRODUCTION by Sir Francis Younghusband, K.C.S.I., K.C.I.E. - THE NARRATIVE OF THE EXPEDITION by Brigadier-General Hon. C. G. Bruce, C.B., M.V.O. - To the Base Camp; The Assault on the Mountain; The Return by Kharta - THE FIRT ATTEMPT by George H. Leigh-Mallory - The Problem; The Highest Camp; The Highest Point - THE ATTEMPT WITH OXYGEN by Captain George Finch - The Second Attempt; Conclusions; Notes on Equipment - THE THIRD ATTEMPT by George H. Leigh-Mallory - The Third Attempt; Conclusions - NOTES by T. Howard Somervell - Acclimatisation at High Altitudes; Colour in Tibet; Tibetan Culture - NATURAL HISTORY by Dr. T. G. Longstaff, M.D. - Natural History - INDEX

Members of the expedition were Brigadier General C.G. Bruce (leader), Captain J.G. Bruce, C.G.Crawford, G.I. Finch, T.G. Longstaff, Mallory, Captain C.J. Morris, Major Morshead, Edward Norton, T.H. Somervell, Colonel E.I. Strutt,A.W. Wakefield, and John Noel. It was decided that the mountain must be attempted before the onset of the summer monsoon. In the spring, therefore, the baggage was carried by Sherpas across the high, windy Plateau of Tibet.

Supplies were carried from Base Camp at 16,500 feet (5,030 metres) to an advanced base atCamp III. From there, on May 13, a camp was established on the North Col. With great difficulty a higher camp was set at 25,000 feet (7,620metres) on the sheltered side of the North Ridge. On the next morning,May 21, Mallory, Norton, and Somervell left Morshead, who was suffering from frostbite, and pushed on through trying windy conditions to 27,000 feet (8,230 metres) near the crest of the Northeast Ridge. On May 25 Finch and Captain Bruce set out from Camp III using oxygen.

Finch, a proponent of oxygen, was justified by the results. The party, with the Gurkha Tejbir Bura, established Camp V at 25,500 feet (7,772metres). There they were storm bound for a day and two nights, but the next morning Finch and Bruce reached 27,300 feet (8,320 metres) and returned the same day to Camp III. A third attempt during the early monsoon snow ended in disaster. On June 7 Mallory, Crawford, and Somervell, with 14 Sherpas, were crossing the North Col slopes. Nine Sherpas were swept by an avalanche over an ice cliff, and seven were killed. Mallory's party was carried down 150 feet (45 metres) but not injured.

 
Charles Granville Bruce

Bruce’s climbing experience was impressive. He spent 10 climbing seasons in the European Alps and took part in three of the earliest climbing expeditions to the Himalaya. In 1892 he and a troop of Gurkha soldiers accompanied Conway in his exploration of the Baltoro region of the Karakorum, visiting Muztagh Tower, Broad Peak and K2. In 1893 he was with Younghusband on the mission to the Hindu Kush to bestow recognition on Nizam-uk-Mulk as Mehtar.

He and Younghusband were probably the first to discuss mounting an expedition to climb Everest.In Himalayan Wanderer, Bruce says that it was Younghusband's idea. In the Epic of Mount Everest, Younghusband says that it was Bruce's (Younghusband 1926). In 1895 he joined Albert F. Mummery and Norman Collie in their attempt on Nanga Parbat, but had to depart early because his army leave was up. In 1906-7 he and Longstaff took another troop of Gurkhas to the Nanda Devi group, visiting Dunagiri & Kachenjunga, and climbing Trisul.

“It is impossible to enumerate all the peaks seen, but when I state that in a country no greater than Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan, there are some 80 peaks all in the neighbourhood of 20,000 ft… it will give an idea… of that mighty range”.


In 1914 Bruce went to Gallipoli commanding the 1st battalion of the 6th Gurkha rifles. After 2 months in the front line he was severely wounded, and transferred back to India. He had perpetual good humour, enthusiasm, and love of alcohol, coupled with competence and shrewdness. He was a superb raconteur, and a fund of bawdy stories. Younghusband described him as

"an extraordinary mixture of man and boy..... you never know which of them you are talking to".


Between 1923 - 1925 Bruce was president of the Alpine Club. Because of his experience in the Himalaya he was appointed leader of the second British expedition to Everest in 1922. He was skilful in bridging thecultural divide between Sahib and Sherpa, and had long advocated training Indians in mountain techniques, with a view to forming a body of porters and guides like those in the European Alps. He called his men porters rather than coolies.

He was particularly liked by the local peoples, and for the 1922 expedition collected a cohort of local men, and enthused them with an esprit de corps. He later christened an elite group of high altitude porters the "Tigers". He was universally admired by the expedition team; George Mallory in particular, liked and trusted him. Bruce was wary of oxygen apparatus, nevertheless, George Finch and Geoffrey Bruce (Charles’s cousin) used oxygen to set a new height record of 27,300 feet on Everest, via the North Col.

In 1924 Bruce led the 3rd expedition to Everest, aided by 4 Gurkha NCOs. Several stories of him survive the trip. On the trek to Tibet, two of his muleteers got drunk and bit a local Tibetan woman. As punishment he fined them, and made them carry the 80 lb "treasury" (double the normal load carried) on a 3 day march. Arthur Hinks, therather mean-spirited secretary of the expedition committee seated in London, was exasperated by the official correspondence reaching London from the Himalayas.

"Captain Noel will be arriving in Darjeeling with a box 40 footlong and I am currently scouring the country for an adequate mule".

"Please note that I am doing my best for this expedition. I have interviewed the Viceroy, I have preached to Boy Scouts, and I have emptied the poes in a Dak Bungalow. This is the meaning of the term General. They are cheap at home, they are more expensive out here. Hurry up with that thousand [pounds] please".


Sadly, Bruce contracted malaria while tiger shooting in India before the expedition, and had to be stretchered out of Tibet. EF Norton took over the leadership, and went on, without oxygen, to set a newheight record of 28,000 feet (less than 1000 feet short of the summit). Two days later Mallory and Irive set off on their summit attempt using oxygen. They disappeared, and itis still argued whether they reached the top. Mallory's body was found below the North East ridge in 1999 by Conrad Anker.

Bruce did not return to Everest. Between 1931 and 1936 he was Honorary Colonel of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles of the Indian Army. He died of a stroke in 1939.



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