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Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak
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Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak [Kindle Edition]

Maurice Herzog , Janet Adam Smith , Nea Morin
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Before Everest, there was Annapurna. Maurice Herzog led an expedition of French climbers to the summit of this 26,000-foot Himalayan peak in 1950. At the time of the assault, it was the highest mountain ever climbed, a remarkable feat in itself made all the more remarkable by the fact that it had never previously been charted. Herzog and his team not only had to climb the darn thing, they had to find the route. As riveting as the tale of the ascent remains nearly half a century later, the story of the descent through virtually unsurvivable--think avalanche and frostbite, for starters--conditions is unforgettable. Herzog's masterful account, finally back in print, is a monument of courage and spirit, an epic adventure excitingly told.


"Those who have never seen the Himalayas...will know that they have been a companion of greatness." --New York Times Book Review

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 471 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media; 1st edition (July 26 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005DI8Y0C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #47,021 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Told April 25 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having recently returned from a trek in Nepal to Annapurna Base Camp, this was a perfect read. The first half felt very technical and almost had me stop reading, however once the trek to Annapurna's summit starts, the book moves along brilliantly. Wonderfully told, incredible detail and an amazing story of tenacity. Stick with it, it is a great adventure story.
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My second favourite Mountaineering book of all time! This is the most widely-read and influential mountaineering book ever published. Annapurna was the first 8000m mountain to be climbed, with Herzog becoming a national hero.

Because the maps at the time were incorrect, the team initially floundered looking for a route to either Dhaulagiri or Annapurna. Deciding that Dhaulagiri was too difficult, they found their way to the North Face of Annapurna. They quickly, and luckily, raced up the mountain. On June 3, 1950 Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal reached the summit of Annapurna without oxygen.

The descent turns into a nightmare, and is better than any fictional writer could dream up. Herzog loses his gloves and his hands become frostbitten and Lachenal's feet become frostbitten. Both barely make it back to camp. Lionel Terray and Gaston Rebuffat help them, but the weather turns into a white-out. They wander around helplessly before finding a crevasse to spend the night. They were caught in an avalanche. The medical treatment they received by the expedition doctor was unbelievable and almost primitive.

"The summit was a corniced crest of ice, and the precipices on the far side which plunged vertically down beneath us, were terrifying, unfathomable. Our mission was accomplished. But at the same time we had accomplished something infinitely greater. How wonderful life had become! What an inconceivable experience it is to attain one's goal and, at the very same moment, to fulfill oneself. I was stirred to the depths of my being. Never had I felt happiness like this - so immense and yet so pure."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Warts and All Simply the Best June 12 2004
When my Mum bought a beaten early edition back from the Hospital Auxillary Store it sat on my shelf for about a year before I decided to take it up. I had read tons of mountaineering literature before that time and much since, but this book is one of the benchmarks against which all others are measured. It is simply one of the greatest adventure stories. It is also proof that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
For those who are more familiar with all of the traditional British siege tactics used in the 50's, 60s and 70s will find French tactics and the general story familiar. What is different is the extended struggle for survival at altitude that is truly amazing. Having some mountaineering experience myself in extreme cold (though not at this altitude) I was constantly amazed by their ability to cheat death, just when you figure that they are all for the worms. Spending the night inside the crevasse is one of great fingernail biters of all time chapters. I am just left shaking my head that anyone could survive after a night without boots in extreme cold, at altitude --- and then attempt crawl off the mountain the next morning --- in stocking feet.
Of course they paid for it. Herzog himself supporating all over Nepal and Northern India, loosing digits and appendages for the glory of France.
This account is clearly colonial, sanitised in some points, and omits some of the fine climbing by other members of the group... so be it --- screw post-modernism, Jean Paul Sartre, and doubt. It is still one of the best ripping yarns in the mountaineering genre --- that modern climbers suffused with petty personal ego problems, the quest for personal gain and money could ever write so well --- that would be a miracle. Let the plain tales of the quest for rotten glory riegn.
Look for a worm eaten, faded copy. It will hold pride of place on your adventure shelf for many years to come.
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By Anton
Muarice Herzog's account of climbing for the first time of an 8,000 meter peak has its assured place among the classics in the climbing literature. The description of the harrowing descent and sibsequent medical treatments will surely leave a long lasting trace in every reader's memory! What one must remember is that equipment, techniques and psychological perspectives were different in the immediate post-WW II era than they are today in the time of guided expeditions. In reading this book, one gets a real sense of the true challenges experienced by the climbers.
While the book does not fall short in telling the story, it fails to provide an unbiased picture of the expedition and it's role in French society at the time. First of all, Herzog, for all his qualities, clearly orchestrated media attention, so that he will come out as the hero (at the airport prior to departure he had all other climbers sign releases authorizing only him to give first-hand account of the expedition). The national fervor following the success largely overlooks the achievements of other expedition members, including Lanchenal, Terry and Rebuffat.
Similarly to the first successful Italian expedition on K2 (where Compagnoni, Lacedeli and Desio get the credit, while Walter Bonatti's role is overlooked), here too the truly outstanding climbers prove only through their subsequent deeds (see "Starlight and Storm" by Rebuffat or "Conquistadors of the Useless" by Terray)their far superior mountaineering qualities.
In spite of all this, Herzog's book is, in my opinion, a must read for climbing enthusiasts.
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Most recent customer reviews
This is perhaps the most famous and long lasting book in mountaineering. The account of how Herzog and Lachenal reached Annapurna's summit is the culmination of a long and... Read more
Published on May 2 2003 by Denis Benchimol Minev
This is perhaps the most famous and long lasting book in mountaineering. The account of how Herzog and Lachenal reached Annapurna's summit is the culmination of a long and... Read more
Published on May 2 2003 by Denis Benchimol Minev
5.0 out of 5 stars All that was left was pain and disillusionment
Before the outburst of World War II, there were many expeditions to the highest mountains, and with one exception, none of them ever succeeded at its goal, namely: to conquer the... Read more
Published on May 22 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal work.
I was lucky enough to have a tattered copy of this given to me while in Nepal, which may have coloured my impressions. Read more
Published on May 6 2002 by Daniel Wickie
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Annapurna
Maurice Herzog's account is absolutely riveting. This is one of the best books I've ever read. After reading David Roberts' True Summit, I was expecting a self-serving rose-colored... Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2001 by Charles Lankford
4.0 out of 5 stars Annapurna
The book Annapurna deals with the first expedition of climbing a mountain over 8000 meters. Leader of this expedition is the writer himself Maurice Herzog. Read more
Published on May 29 2001 by Jonatan S
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read this book!
It is a climbing classic. A must read for anyone who is into mountaineering and/or technical climbing...even the fair weather climber should read this.
Published on March 13 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars When (French) men were REAL (French) men...
Annapurna offers a fascinating account of man's earliest attempts to explore the highest mountains of the world. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2001 by "oisini"
3.0 out of 5 stars Annapurna: the heroic facade
As an account of heroism, comradeship and self-sacrifice, this is a stunning book. It's inspired generations of climbers. Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2000 by K. Freeman
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Popular Highlights

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Annapurna, to which we had gone emptyhanded, was a treasure on which we should live the rest of our days. With this realization we turn the page: a new life begins. There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men. &quote;
Highlighted by 5 Kindle users
I felt as though I were plunging into something new and quite abnormal. I had the strangest and most vivid impressions, such as I had never before known in the mountains. There was something unnatural in the way I saw Lachenal and everything around us. I smiled to myself at the paltriness of our efforts, for I could stand apart and watch myself making these efforts. But all sense of exertion was gone, as though there were no longer any gravity. This diaphanous landscape, this quintessence of puritythese were not the mountains I knew: they were the mountains of my dreams. &quote;
Highlighted by 4 Kindle users
Rébuffat and I, therefore, had gone off after a ghost mountain. If only we had realized. But that is exploration: a great deal of hesitation, doubt, error, and then, quite suddenly, a discovery. &quote;
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