Wednesday, April 6, 2011

British Mountaineers, by Frank Smythe

Frank Smythe writes a very short history of British mountaineering in his British Mountaineers. I honestly don't have much to say about this one. I sat down to write about it yesterday, but I couldn't come up with anything worth writing, positive or negative. Smythe begins his history with the early ascents of Mont Blanc, and works his way forward through the Alps (notably Whymper's ascent of the Matterhorn) to the Everest expeditions, as well as future prospects in rarely traveled places. He also includes a personal adventure from the Schreckhorn (near the Eiger), in which he and two climbing partners survive a descent in a horrible storm and he is struck by lightning. He names plenty of names in the book, but due to its length, he is unable to go into detail about anyone save Whymper and Mummery. Interestingly to me, he mentions that there already too many mountaineering books.

His Everest writing comprises a short chapter. He hopes Everest will be climbed without supplementary oxygen and states that the weather is the greatest difficulty on an Everest expedition. He recounts the history of the expeditions so far, though the 1935 reconnaissance and the 1936 expedition get no specific coverage. Smythe also writes a bit about the attempts made on other Himalayan peaks, including Kanchenjunga and Nanga Parbat. At the end of the book, he brings up Everest again, and implies that you're no better than a Nazi if you try to climb it with oxygen. (After all, they use dynamite for fishing!) This was, by the way, written during World War II.

No comments:

Post a Comment