Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Himalaya Alpine-Style: The Most Challenging Routes on the Highest Peaks, by Fanshawe & Venables

Fanshawe and Venables put together a coffee table book directed more towards the serious (armchair) mountaineer than Robert Mads Anderson's tome. The book serves as a reference guide for the alpine ascents the authors feel are the most interesting on several mountains, with extensive photos, an outline map of each route, some prose, and a fact-table that gives details of the expeditions. The North Face Direct route, climbed by Loretan and Troillet in 1986, is included for Everest. Along with their French comrade, Beghin, they ripped up to 7800 m in an eleven-hour night climb following the Japanese Couloir from the Rongbuk Glacier. During the day, they rested and melted snow for food and drinks. The following evening, they set out again to follow the Hornbein Couloir, Beghin turning back after a short while. By 1 p.m., Loretan and Troillet were on the summit. After ninety minutes on top of the world, they found the snow conditions perfect for a glissade, and made down to the glacier along with Beghin in five hours. An hour later, an avalanche filled the couloir! The book also makes a nod to Messner's alpine-style solo ascent of the North Ridge, noting that it was likely more difficult, but the authors give Loretan and Troillet points for style. Both expeditions summitted during a brief respite in the weather towards the end of the monsoon and took advantage of good snow conditions.

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