Monday, March 7, 2011

High Drama, by Hamish MacInnes

If you've read Hamish MacInnes's Mammoth Book of Mountain Disasters, for the most part, you've also read his High Drama. With a few exceptions, such as Ludwig Gramminger's piece on the Matterhorn, the contents of High Drama is is found within MacInnes' later book. I looked over the contents of High Drama at the library, and it looked exceedingly familiar, but I brought it home just in case. In both books, you'll find MacInnes' own writing on the 1973 Everest Southwest Face expeditions' loss of Tony Tighe. There are other Everesters who have contributed to the books, including Paul Nunn and Doug Scott. In High Drama, in addition, there are rescue stories from the Alps, Grand Teton, and Mount Cook.

Since I wrote about Doug Scott's Ogre ordeal and the Everest expedition in my Mammoth post, I'll talk a bit about Paul Nunn's contribution here. Paul Nunn should be familiar to Everest readers from Joe Tasker's Everest: The Cruel Way, in which he participates in Tasker's Everest winter West Ridge expedition in 1980. Here Nunn writes about his participation, along with several other British climbers, including Doug Scott, in an international mountaineering meet put on by the Russians in the Pamirs. His group attempts to climb Pik Lenin from the East Face, but after atrocious snow conditions, they retreat and later climb via the Northeast Ridge. Though Nunn descends early, his companions continue to the summit and retreat just ahead of another snow storm, the worst in living memory. A Soviet women's expedition gets trapped near the summit, and in their retreat the members slowly die off over several days. Due to the weather and the snow conditions, no one is able to help them. You can also read Doug Scott's perspective in his Himalayan Climber. 

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