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ROUND KANGCHENJUNGA: A NARRATIVE OF MOUNTAIN TRAVEL AND EXPLORATION Douglas Freshfield 2002 Hardcover DJ Fine
By Freshfield, Douglas W.
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India, 2002 reprint [1903]. 362 pp, b/w photos and foldout panorama, maps. Black cloth hardcover with dust jacket. Fine.

 Kangchenjunga, the slumbering giant of the eastern Himalaya - its mighty, gigantic walls practically insurmountable from all sides - sits like a brooding god on the borders of eastern Tibet, Sikkim and Nepal, unwilling to be desecrated. In 1899 this mountain, though clearly visible from the British Raj hill station of Darjeeling, was geographically completely unknown. Surrounding it, giant bastions of glaciers, outer guardian peaks and hidden valleys were shrouded in mists as thick as those that rose from the twisted and impenetrable rhododendron forests on its lower southern flanks. Images by Vittorio Sella.

Following in the footsteps of the 1883 mountaineering party of W W Graham, which after climbing an 18,000 foot peak, was forced to return to Darjeeling after only a week, Douglas Freshfield set out with his party in 1899. He was to be the first mountaineer to examine the great western face of Kangchenjunga, rising from the Kangchenjunga Glacier.

This volume is the story of an exciting, often dangerous and frequently frustrating journey of exploration to discover the lower and upper ramparts of this great mountain. It is the epic story of adventurers seeking to open up a path to the base of the mountain for future climbers and to seek a pathway to the abode of the Gods.

Douglas W Freshfield (1845-1934), a British barrister, mountaineer, writer, poet and geographer, was one of the greatest mountain explorers of any age. A prominent figure in the Royal Geographical Society, Freshfield is considered to be one of the most scholarly and sensitive mountain writers. His books include Exploration of the Caucasus, Round Kangchenjunga and Below the Snow Line. 'The most valuable mountain exploration ever carried out in the Sikkim Himalayas was that of Mr Freshfield's party in 1899... It [the book] is indeed an extraordinarily accurate work.' - F S Smythe, The Kangchenjunga Adventure 'This dangerous and exciting circuit of Kangchenjunga is a classic of mountain exploration.' - W R Neate, Mountaineering and its Literature Round Kangchenjunga, published in 1903, and adorned with admirable photographs of Signor Vittorio Sella, is a masterpiece literature, helpful in its technique, illuminating in its topography, and a little pleasantly malicious.' - The Times, London.

Douglas William Freshfield (1845-1934), English explorer and mountaineer, the only son of Henry R. Freshfield. In 1869 he married Augusta Charlotte, daughter of the Honorable. W. Ritchie, Advocate-General of Calcutta. He had a son who to his everlasting grief died in boyhood.

Douglas Freshfield was a prominent member of the Royal Geographical Society. He was a pioneer climber in the Caucasus, the Himalayas, and the mountainous regions of many other countries. Although the dominating interest of his life was mountain exploration, and though he continuously devoted his leisure to the affairs of Royal Geographical Society and of his beloved Alpine Club, he found time for many other activities. He served for several years as Treasurer of the Hellenic and Roman Societies, as Chairman of the Committee of the Society of Authors.

In 1899 he visited India, Burma, and Ceylon, accomplishing his second greatest journey of exploration by the first circuit of Kangchenjunga. He was accompanied by Professor Garwood, who produced a map which was considered the best for the whole district. His last great journey was made at sixty years of age. Returning from the meeting of the British Association in South Africa in 1905 when he made an attempt on Ruwenzori, then still known as the mysterious Mountains of the Moon. Mr. Freshfield edited the Alpine Journal and wrote The Exploration of the Caucasus, Round Kangchenjunga, Italian Alps, a biography of H. B. de Saussure, and Below the Snow Line.

Vittorio Sella [1859 - 1943]

He was the Italian alpinist and photographer who accompanied the 1906 Abruzzi Rwenzori expedition and who was perhaps the greatest of all alpine photographers. It was Sella who first recorded the landscape, plants and people of the Rwenzori in extensive and intimate detail, and to whom we refer for clarity of the historical record and pure artistic beauty. It is particularly interesting to note how far the glaciers of the Rwenzori have receded since these photographs were taken, nearly 90 years ago. Vittorio Sella was born in Biella, Italy, to father who was a successful textile industrialist and scientist ad who, in 1856, had been the first Italian to write a treatise on photography. Vittorio owed his interest in the mountains to his uncle, Quintino, founder of the Alpine Club of Italy. As a young man, Vittorio had worked as a chemist in his father's textile factory, but it was his passion for taking beautiful panoramic photographs of the mountains which made him famous. From 1880 to 1893 he compiled a detailed portfolio of the Alps, combining his photography with impressive alpinism, such as the first winter traverse of the Matterhorn in 1882. He made three expeditions to the Caucasus, in 1889, 1890 and 1896, for which his photography received awards from Britain's Royal Geographical Society. In 1899 he accompanied his friend the alpinist D. W. Freshfield on a difficult exploration of Kanchenjunga in Sikkim. The Duke of Abruzzi greatly admired Sella's work and invited him to be the official photographer for the expeditions in 1897 to Mount St Elias in Alaska, in 1909 to the Karakoram. The highest summit on Mount Luigi di Savoia in the Rwenzori was named Sella Peak in his honor.


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