Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mount Everest Massif: Monograph, Guide, Chronicle, by Jan Kielkowski

Jan Kielkowski's Mount Everest Massif is possibly the single most useful reference book about Mount Everest. Kielkowski pulls the massif (Everest, Lhotse, Changtse, Nuptse, and their subsidiary peaks) apart, showing each of the routes taken to the peaks (and cols), describing them, giving a history of their ascents and attempts, and stating every known spelling and elevation of each. The author begins the book with a list of all known or possible expeditions to the massif up to 1992, numbering them, and then he uses the list to cross-reference the climbers who attempted each route. He works his way around the mountain, with illustrations of each face of each peak that have the routes drawn and numbered upon them, and the written descriptions of the routes and their histories nearby. Additionally, Kielkowski includes a long bibliography at the end of the guide and an extensive index.

I had no idea Mount Everest was such an extensive geological formation. Kielkowski includes a total of 31 peaks and 18 cols in his guide, and his illustrations give multiple views of each of them. I was excited to see many of the routes that I had read about previously, but had trouble imagining, such as Jerzy Kukuszka's line on the South Face of Lhotse (My Vertical World) or the 1983 American Kangshung Face line (Geoff Tabin's Blind Corners). I also took notice of several areas that had few or no routes on them, such as the Fantasy Ridge and the face between it and the Northeast Ridge or the North Face of Lhotse. It's nice to see that there are difficult adventures left yet on Everest!

This is a great reference book. Because of its format and style, it doesn't make much of a through-read, unless you're obsessed. I found some climbers I'd like to read more about from this guide, such as Mark Twight. Also, the Soviet line up the Southwest Face looks very interesting; I'll have to find a book about it soon! Additionally, I learned that Doug Scott and Joe Tasker made an attempt together on Nuptse. I missed that in their books. Anybody know anything about it?

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