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Item #: OP4716-894
GASHERBRUM I FIRST ASCENT FRAMED PHOTO SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE AMERICAN TEAM Rare!
By Gasherbrum First Ascent Signed Photo
Price: $750.00

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GASHERBRUM I FIRST ASCENT PHOTO SIGNED BY THE AMERICAN ENTIRE TEAM. 

GASHERBRUM I, HIDDEN PEAK, 8080M, 26,510’, 11th HIGHEST MOUNTAIN IN THE WORLD. THIS WAS THE ONLY AMERICAN FIRST ASCENT OF AN 8000M PEAK


RARE TEAM SIGNATURES.




This is the official expedition photograph for the American team who made the first ascent of  Gasherbrum I, also called Hidden Peak. The photo is SIGNED by all 8 American team members on the matte beneath the photo. The photo is 7.5’’x10’’.  The frame is 13’’x16’’. The photo is framed with a glass protecting the photo. Condition is excellent.


There are 10 signatures. Richard Irvin took the photo, and he signed his name under the photo, as well as among the team members. There is also another signature on the left side, and we have not yet discovered who this is. It may have been one of the Pakistani liaison officers.


In 1958 the American Gasherbrum Team was camped next to the Italian climbers making the first ascent of Gasherbrum IV, with Cassin and Bonatti, and nearby there was a Japanese Team attempting the first ascent of Chogolisa. Nick Clinch told me that the Italians brought a real chef to do the cooking, and he tried to sponge meals off them all summer long. 


All eight team members Signed their names, from left to right, and top to bottom, as follows:


Andy Kauffman, Pete Schoening, Tom McCormack, Dick Irvin, Gil Roberts, Tom Nevison, Nick Clinch, Bob Swift. 


On this climb Pete Schoening and Andy Kauffman became the only Americans to make a first ascent of an 8000 meter peak.  Written in pen on the rear of the photo is written, ''Photo By Lawrence Coveney, 1958 Am. Karakoram Expedition.’’ This was Coverney’s photo, but he did not take the photo.  


SIGNIFICANCE:

As most of our customers know, we make a huge effort to meet with authors and climbers to have them sign books they had either written, or that mention them. We always had good relations with both Andy Kauffman and Peter Schoening, but as the team book about the Gasherbrum climb came out 24 years after the climb, there did not seem to be a great demand for obtaining signed copies. A bigger fuss was being made about Pete’s miraculous ice axe belay that saved five lives while retreating from K2 in 1953, so we had him sign more K2 material. 


Other than this mounted photograph, we have never seen any book or photo signed by the entire Gasherbrum team.  It just never happened. So the rarity of the signatures, and the significance of a first ascent of an 8000m peak, make this a truly rare item.


If any of the similar photos that were signed that day ever appear, I am afraid that they may be treated as this one was: they will be ignored. The names are not as famous as Hillary and Tenzing, so although the climb is given proper space on Wikipedia, and the climbers who are worthy of an entry themselves do have their place. But if another photo appears, how will it ever find its way to the world of climbing?


We obtained this photo, framed as we see it, in an antique shop in Brattleboro Vermont in 1982. It took me another twenty years to sleuth out the whole story, of the Coveney connection, Vermont, etc. I have always had the photo hanging in its frame both in my bookshop or in my home. In the 1990s Nick Clinch was visiting me here in Colorado and saw this photo on the wall. He asked how I got it  (I think he thought it was ‘ill gotten’.) Then he told me the story.


Nick had led the Gasherbrum I Expedition in 1958. Unlike most expeditions, there was a 24 year delay in getting his book, A Walk In The Sky, published. The team decided to print a few dozen copies of the best photo they had of Gashserbrum from basecamp with the team, and have the whole team sign the photos.


These Signed copies were then given to all the team members and others who had helped make the expedition happen.  The climb was in 1958, and Lawrence Coveney was then President of the American Alpine Club, and he had helped behind the scenes in making the expedition a success. Mr. Coveney had lived in New Jersey, and eventually retired to a home near Brattleboro Vermont. He passed away in 1981, and some of his effects ended up in an antique shop I chanced to visit. 


Coveney made several notable climbs. Perhaps his best is the first ascent of Devils Tower Wyoming using modern mountaineering techniques and gear. His three man team was led by Fritz Wiessner, and also along was William House.  This was accomplished on 27 June 1937.  A year earlier, on July 20, 1936, Wiessner and House made the first ascent of Mount Waddington, the highest peak in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. Waddington was swirling with climbers for several summers in the 1930s, including the second ascent by the teenage Beckey brothers, Fred and Helmy, in 1942.   


LAWRENCE GEORGE COVENEY, 1898-1981

Lawrence was a man of many interests. In addition to a successful business career and a lifelong love of music and literature, he was an enthusiastic outdoors man and mountaineer. His death on July 27, 1981 after a short illness was a great loss to the mountain climbing fraternity. Lawrence started rock climbing in the 1930s with Appalachian Mountain Club members who were pioneering the sport in the Hudson Highlands. Later he was involved in the development of the first routes in the Shawangunks. The limited time off available to businessmen during the Great Depression restricted long trips for many years. However, he managed to climb in the Tetons and the Bugaboos, making one first ascent and several second ascents in the latter. He was a member of the party which made the first free climb of the Devil’s Tower and took part in the first climbs of the Needles in the Black Hills. The love of mountaineering continued throughout Lawrence’s life as excerpts from his climbing record show. When nearly 60, he climbed the Mischabel Dom (highest mountain completely within Switzerland) with the vigor of a man half his age despite recent back surgery. At the end of the trip, he enthusiastically remarked that his back never felt better! At the age of 70, he took part in the Alpine Club of Canada camp in the Mount Steele area of the Yukon Territory. Only a few years before his death, he climbed one of the best 5.7s in the Gunks. Lawrence was elected to membership in the American Alpine Club in 1945. His organizational ability was recognized when he was elected to the Council in 1954. After serving as Secretary and Vice-President, he became President from 1965 to 1967. During his term, one of his chief interests was the encouragement and development of the younger, active climbers in the Club. As a member, Secretary, Vice-President and President, he served as a bridge between various segments of the Club, old and young, East and West. Prior to holding these offices, Lawrence had been Chairman of the New York Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club in 1944 and 1945. Born in northeastern Pennsylvania, Lawrence went from the local high school to Pennsylvania State College. There, among other things, he was on the varsity debating team, a skill he retained in later years as many of his friends can testify. His college career was interrupted by World War I during which he trained as an Army Air Corps pilot although the war ended before he saw combat service. His business career centered on foreign trade. After positions in a number of export- import firms, he finished his working life as Executive Director of the Intercontinental Trading Corporation. In connection with his business, he contributed his services to the Economic Warfare Board, the New York Export Managers Club and various committees of the National Foreign Trade Council. In 1941, Lawrence married Marguerite Schnellbacher, an American Alpine Club member whom he had met on skiing and climbing trips. Their daughter, Lelia Coveney, now lives in Colorado. After his retirement, Lawrence and Marguerite moved from New Jersey to South Royalton, Vermont. In their comfortable, modernized farm house Lawrence enjoyed his retirement years and, on numerous occasions, played host to Council meetings. Marguerite died in 1962. Lawrence married Marion Wood Wallace in 1964. They left the Vermont farm in February 1980 and moved to a center near Philadelphia where full-service living and health services were available. Marion died a short time after they moved. Lawrence was a good companion on any trip. He never put self above the interests of the party—he was ready to do his share and more. His organizational talents always helped keep things on track but he was no martinet—he was always tolerant of the failings of others. We fondly remember the happy expeditions of which he was a part. His death is a great loss to all his friends. Frank Cary, Percy Olton, Fritz Wiessner AAC


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