Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Everest 1933, by Hugh Ruttledge, part 2

For my report on the first half of this book, click here

The second half of the book details the assaults and results of the expedition. I found it exciting to read a first-hand account of young Shipton and Smythe climbing a mountain together. Smythe comes off as quite the climber in this book, both from the words of Ruttledge and his own, as he authors the chapter on the second assault. I find it interesting the way Mount Everest says "no" to some people, as a rock collapses under Smythe at his high point, and then a wind storm (or the jet stream?) descends upon him on his way down the mountain, blowing him from his stance on several occasions.

I'm curious what became of Wager and Wyn-Harris, of the first assault team. They both did their duty on Everest with a high degree of professionalism and strength. Based on the books I've read so far, they both walk off of Everest and into anonymity. Perhaps they lost interest in the Himalayas after their grand effort. I hope to read Boustead's memoirs before I move; maybe I'll get an update! On their climb, they discover an ice ax belonging to Irvine, and Ruttledge discusses its significance as well as the many possibilities of their climb.

Throughout the expedition, the weather remains marginal. The climbers lower considerably their standards of working weather, and they head out in anything that provides a decent chance of advancement. It even takes two attempts before the climbers are able to establish the camps on the North Ridge. Even so, Camp VI is established considerably higher that the previous attempts, and it gives the summit climbers a bit of an advantage over the 1924 crew, but in the end both the weather and the snow conditions on the mountain (read: weather), prevent anyone from reaching the top.

Ruttledge, thankfully, continues the book after the climbing is done, and we get to hear about the return journey back to Darjeeling. The group heads back in two groups, and then splinters further as members head off to further adventures or run ahead to get back to work. Ruttledge and the main party take a more southern route to avoid high meltwater rivers, and also take a detour for a chance to walk off the map. Ruttledge also has a chapter of summary and conclusions, and brings up the weather as his main enemy.

At the end of the book, there are chapters on the medical aspects of the expedition, the flora and fauna encountered, and the weather. MacLean discusses both acclimatization and the various diseases faced on the expedition. Shebbeare gives an overall general account of the animals and plants, and Wager discusses the lack of knowledge about the weather on Everest and makes suggestions for the future. Additionally, there is a 3-D photograph of the mountain at the end of the book, and I'm sorry to say the library edition I read no longer has the glasses to see it that were originally provided.

No comments:

Post a Comment