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Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak Kindle Edition
|Length: 336 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
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."
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.
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.
I found most interesting to be the differences between an expedition in the 90s (such as described in Into Thin Air) and Herzog's expedition; it is hard to understand how they could ahve made it without the modern equipment, however they did pay the price through amputated limbs.
This is a mountaineering classic, perhaps the best one, despite the recent questions as to the veracity of the team dynamics described by Herzog. Herzog describes a team of selfless members that were working towards one common goal, to get one of them on the summit. Question have arisen on whether such dynamics were not exaggerated. Either way, it si a wonderful book to read, as Herzog takes us on a ride all the way to the summit and back. Highly recommended for the armchair mountaineer.
Most recent customer reviews
I got this on a discount, but it was really badly written and I couldn't get through it. The writing was disorganized and not descriptive, making it very hard to get into the... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
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... Read morePublished on April 25 2014 by David Vella
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 morePublished on May 2 2003 by Denis Benchimol Minev
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 morePublished on May 22 2002
I was lucky enough to have a tattered copy of this given to me while in Nepal, which may have coloured my impressions. Read morePublished on May 6 2002 by Daniel Wickie
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 morePublished on Oct. 19 2001 by Charles Lankford
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 morePublished on May 29 2001 by Jonatan S
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
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