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ERIC SHIPTON: EVEREST AND BEYOND Peter Steele 1998 1st UK ed Hardcover DJ Fine
By Steele, Peter
Price: $29.95


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London, 1998, 1st UK edition. 290 pp, 27 photos, 21 maps. Hardcover with dust jacket. Fine.

Winner of the Boardman Tasker Prize 1998.

A long needed in-depth biography of one of the greatest mountain explorers of all time. Shipton not only made many important ascents and explorations, he set the tone for small scale expeditioning that is still the norm for many climbers today. 

* Shipton was the big name in Himalayan exploration before Hillary

* The first person to develop the simple Alpine-siege style in an era of elaborate expeditions

* The full story of how he was maneuvered out of the leadership of the successful 1953 British Everest climb

Threading his way over Tibetan passes or forcing the forbidding cirque of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, mountaineering legend Eric Shipton (1907-1977) continues to fascinate readers. Here biographer Peter Steele draws a full-bodied portrait of the self-effacing explorer with new information about his public and private lives. He gives, for the first time, the full story behind Shipton's shocking exclusion from the 1953 British expedition to Everest, a controversy that reverberated through the climbing world long after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay successfully reached the summit.

Steele, an acquaintance of Shipton for many years, draws upon scores of personal interviews as well as Shipton's own correspondence (including that of the many women Shipton fascinated). He traces the beginning of Shipton's climbing career in Africa, where he had taken himself shortly after the first world war to grow coffee. In Kenya he met H.W. Tilman and together the pair climbed Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya, and in the Ruwenzori Mountains. After joining Frank Smythe on an expedition to Kamet, he was invited onto the large 1933 Everest expedition organized by The Alpine Club and the Royal Geographical Society.

Steele writes of the cases of champagne, Stilton cheeses and tins of lobster hauled up the mountain, and of Shipton's disenchantment with the large scale, officially endorsed approach to mountaineering. Shipton next joined Tilman on a small-budget exploration of Garhwal; although he returned to Everest several times, throughout his career Shipton found his greatest enjoyment when exploring in the company of a few hand-picked friends and Sherpas. Steele follows Shipton's career to South America and Patagonia, where he completed a traverse of the Southern Patagonia Ice Cap.

Here is a biography that does justice to the enigmatic figure, Eric Shipton, who is still the role model for post-war expedition climbers.


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