Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Everest Adventure, by Sir John Hunt

Sir John Hunt's Our Everest Adventure is one of a number of titles released soon after the 1953 successful ascent of Mount Everest. This is perhaps the compromise title between Hunt's The Ascent of Everest and Alfred Gregory's The Picture of Everest, with both text and pictures throughout. It's a good read for people who have a magazine attention-span who would like to read and see the story of the first ascent. (The layout looks strikingly like a concurrent issue of Life magazine.) The text is actually a abridgment of The Ascent of Everest, and since it has been a while since I read the larger work, I read this one through. The condensed version is good, though I think it doesn't quite give the feel of the seriousness of the effort, either logistical or physical of climbing the mountain. (However, Hunt does admit the difficulty of this in his introduction.) Some of the photo captions help get the scale of Everest, though, when they give distances in miles for things that appear quite close.

There are pictures pretty much every page in this one, and the book is worth a look through even just for the photos. The pictures are for the most part in a documentary style and include photographs from many of the climbers. The icefall work gets good coverage, and there are also many photos from high on the mountain, including several of Hillary's photographs from the summit climb. I had not seen the other two pictures of Tenzing holding the flags aloft before reading this book. I can understand why only one has become famous. One turned out poorly, with Tenzing an unlit silhouette, but the other is interesting: Tenzing in an awkward posture holding his ice ax with both hands, one on top and one on bottom with the flags flying in between. Overall, a fun read for a lazy afternoon!

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