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Item #: OP389B-882
AMERICANS ON EVEREST: THE OFFICIAL ACCOUNT James Ramsey Ullman 1964 True 1st ed Hardcover DJ Near Fine
By Ullman, James Ramsey
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Detailed Product Description
New York, 1964, true 1st edition. 429 pp, 74 b/w and color photos. Hardcover with chipped dust jacket. Book is a bit worn on spine, else fine. Near Fine overall.

The first American ascent of Mount Everest was an unqualified success, a tour de force that put six climbers, in three groups, on two routes, up the mountain. 
 
In 1963 an American mountain-climbing expedition reached the top of the world's highest peak. It was the fourth expedition to reach the summit. They did it after weeks of exposure to the thin and bitterly cold air of Everest, after climber Jake Breitenbach was crushed under a falling ice wall, and in the teeth of howling winds and snowstorms. Success came first on May 1, when Jim Whittaker and Nawang Gombu gained the summit via the South Col route. This was followed three weeks later by an even more extraordinary feat: four more men made the peak - Lute Jertsad and Barry Bishop by the South Col route and Willi Unsoeld and Tom Hornbein via the West Ridge, which had never been negotiated before.
 
Americans on Everest is an incredibly vivid account of their victories, and now a classic of American mountaineering literature.
 
JIM WHITTAKER
 
There have been many firsts in Jim Whittaker's life. He was the first North American to summit Mount Everest (1963). As the first manager and employee, and ultimately the CEO, of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), he led the company through years of record-setting growth. In 1965 he guided Bobby Kennedy up the newly-named Mount Kennedy, helping him to become the first person to summit the peak. In 1990, he led the historic International Peace Climb, which put climbers from the U.S., Russia, and China on the summit of Everest in the name of world peace.

In 1963, Swiss mountaineer Norman Dyhrenfurth invited the Whittaker brothers to join him on an Everest expedition. Lou was unable to make the trip, but Jim leapt at the chance. In his 1999 autobiography A Life on the Edge he describes how it felt to stand atop Everest: 'I did not feel expansive or sublime. I felt only, as I said later, 'like a frail human being'. People, mostly non-climbers talk about conquering mountains. In my mind, nothing could be farther from the truth. The mountain is so huge and powerful, and the climber so puny, exhausted, and powerless. The mountain is forever. Gombu and I, meanwhile, were dying every second we lingered.'

Summitting Everest changed Jim Whittaker's life. An invitation to the White House led to a friendship with the Kennedy family and in particular with Bobby Kennedy, President Kennedy's younger brother and Attorney-General. Following the president's assassination, Whittaker guided Bobby Kennedy to the top of the Yukon mountain named in the president's memory.

Whittaker went on to lead expeditions to K2, organizing the first American team to summit the mountain in 1978. In 1990 he surmounted physical and bureaucratic hurdles to place a combined U.S-Chinese-Russian team at the summit of Everest as part of the 1990 Mount Everest Earth Day International Peace Climb.

Today Jim Whittaker spends his time lecturing, writing and, when time allows, sailing with his wife Dianne Roberts, and their two teenage sons. Life, Whittaker says, is still full of adventure: 'I think a life well lived is also inseparable from being able and willing to learn continuously. A climber who doesn't learn, almost with every foothold and handhold, is unlikely to be around long enough to have a life well lived. Learning is what happens when you risk a journey beyond what you know and are comfortable with, to something you don't know and aren't comfortable with. A lot of people my age act like they've seen it all and have nothing much else to learn. But I'm still a learner.

 
From Wikipedia: Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1930, Hornbein developed an interest in geology as a teenager. His study of geology led to a fascination with mountains. Eventually he also became interested in medicine; he studied and worked as an anesthesiologist. He studied human physiological limits and performance at high altitude. He was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, Washington from 1978 to 1993. His life was a link of medicine and mountaineering.

When Hornbein and his partner Willi Unsoeld attempted to climb Mount Everest in 1963, eight men had already reached the summit. Hornbein and Unsoeld were the first to attempt an ascent of the daunting West Ridge. Previously,ascents of the mountain had been made only via the South Col and Southeast Ridge or the North Col and Northeast Ridge. This first ascent of a new route on Everest is considered a landmark event in Himalayan mountaineering.

On May 22, 1963 at 6:50 a.m. they left their camp and started the climb, and even though progress was very slow made it to the summit at 6:15 that night. They found themselves hours behind the generally accepted schedule and after spending 20 minutes at the top they began the descent. They used the South Col for the trip down deciding that it would be unwise to attempt a night descent via the extremely dangerous Yellow Band, which they had surmounted on the way up. Shortly after they started down Unsoeld ran out of oxygen.

At 9:30 P.M. they came upon two other Americans from the same expedition, Barry Bishop and Lute Jerstad. Bishop and Jerstad had reached the summit earlier in the day using the now standard South Col route, and by this time they too were exhausted and nearly out of oxygen. The four climbers joined together on the descent and continued to make very slow progress until they felt it was too dangerous and stopped sometime after midnight.

They huddled together until 4:00 a.m. and started down again, meeting expedition members carrying extra tanks of oxygen. They made it to camp to find Unsoeld’s feet hard and frostbitten. Barry Bishop and Lute Jerstad also suffered from frostbite and Bishop and Unsoeld lost toes as a result.

Hornbein wrote about this night event in his book 'Everest: The West Ridge':  'The night was overwhelming empty.The black silhouette of Lhotse was lurking there, half to see, half to assume, and below us. In general there was nothing – simply nothing. We hung in a timeless gap, pained by the intense cold air – and had the idea not to be able to do anything but to shiver and to wait for the sun arising.'

Hornbein named the Hornbein Couloir, a snow gulley in the utmost upper part of the north wall, which Hornbein and Unsoeld passed. In his book Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer writes that 'Hornbein's and Unsoeld's ascent was--and continues to be--deservedly hailed as one of the great feats in the annals of mountaineering.'

Hornbein, now 89 yrs old, lives in Estes Park, Colorado.

How to tell the difference between a true 1st edition and a BOMC edition (Book of the Month Club edition) of Americans on Everest.

In 1965 the Book of the Month Club (BOMC) sold thousands of copies of new books at the same time the regular trade edition was available in bookstores. The BOMC copies were much cheaper in price. Nowadays most book collectors prefer true first editions, and what gets confusing is that many BOMC editions also say 'First Edition' on the copyright page. 

Below is an image of a 1st edition Americans on Everest and a BOMC copyright page. Note the letter W on the BOMC edition. In a nutshell, that is all you need to know. The book's color photos are all included in the BOMC edition and are just as good.  (Other differences is cheaper text paper, cheaper dust jacket paper, no price on the dust jacket, and a small indentation on the bottom of the rear cover of the BOMC copies.)


Above: Copyright page of a true first edition of Americans on Everest.


Above: Copyright page of a BOMC (Book of the Month Club) 'stated' first edition of Americans on Everest. Note the letter W.



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