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Item #: OP374A-109
CAMP SIX: AN ACCOUNT OF THE 1933 MOUNT EVEREST EXPEDITION Frank Smythe 1937 1st ed Hardcover Rare DJ Fine
By Smythe, Frank
Price: $395.00

List Price: $650.00
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Detailed Product Description

London, 1937, 1st edition. 307 pp, 35 b/w plates. The original blue cloth hardcover is in very fine condition, with no internal writing, no stains, no edge wear, no slant, no yellowing, a really beautiful book. The dust jacket is quite complete with no major pieces or chips missing. However there is minor edge wear or chipping at the top and bottom of the spine. The spine itself has darkened with age, and there are some old scotch tape reinforcements which were done externally on the rear of the DJ. So overall we call the book Fine, the Dust Jacket is Near Fine. 


Camp Six has been called the first 'personal' expedition book. Neate says,"'One of his best books, with its revelations of his experiences at the highest camp and his solo attempt on the summit, one of the greatest efforts in Everest history."

Frank Sydney Smythe was an extremely gifted and well-traveled mountaineer who wrote over 25 popular books about mountaineering during the first half of the last century. He achieved prominence in mountaineering circles following two impressive seasons in the Alps in 1927 and 1928. He subsequently climbed extensively in the Himalayas.

In 1931 Smythe, along with Eric Shipton and other members of the expedition climbed Kamet in the Indian Himalaya. At 25,442-feet it was the highest mountain then climbed.

Following that success he was invited to join the 1933 and 1936 British Mount Everest Expeditions. In 1933 he climbed to 28,200 feet on the north side of the mountain without oxygen, which remained the highest anybody climbed on Everest until 1978 when Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler changed all the rules.

This account of the 1933 Everest expedition has long been regarded as one of the great classics of climbing literature. It also benefits from Smythe’s skills as a photographer and his stunning photographs enliven the book.

It also gives an account of the discovery of the ice axe that could only have been Mallory’s or Irvine’s and in a way was responsible for the feverish speculation as to whether they did summit, and also encouraged the constant searches that have been made for Mallory’s body and now Sandy Irvine’s.

The title Camp Six refers to the highest camp that the expedition managed to put up. It was coming down from Camp Six that Smythe reported what many believe to be UFOs.

Camp Six on Everest was at 27,400 feet. Smythe and Eric Shipton attempted the summit from there. Fierce blizzards beset their ascent hindering their progress and sapping their strength. Shipton was forced to quit and return lower down. Smythe was on his own. He tried to struggle on but wisely realized his strength was no longer there. He turned back to join Shipton at Camp Six. On his way down he reported seeing in his own words:

“I saw two dark objects floating in the sky. In shape they resembled kite balloons, and my first reaction was what on earth kite balloons could be doing near Everest…They were bulbous in shape and one possessed what looked like squat, underdeveloped wings, whilst the other had a beak-like protuberance like the spout of a tea kettle. But what was most weird about them was they distinctly pulsated with an in and out motion as though they possessed some horrible quality of life.”

It is a fascinating account at contrast with the rather dull official account by Ruttledge in Everest 1933. Camp Six focuses on personal relationships and the real pain and suffering of high altitude mountaineering as few books have. Indeed, Smythe looks back with hindsight and asks “did we really have such an unpleasant time in 1933?”


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