Monday, July 18, 2011

New Zealanders and Everest, by L. V. Bryant

Leslie Vickery (Dan) Bryant, member of the 1935 Mount Everest reconnaissance, wrote a short book, New Zealanders and Everest, after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's successful climb of the world's highest mountain. He reasons that it was no anomaly that a Kiwi performed so well on Everest, as the Southern Alps are the perfect training grounds for hard Himalayan climbing. The Southern Alps long glaciers and difficult approaches, stormy weather, as well as the climbers' need to carry heavy loads of provisions on their own condition New Zealand climbers to face Himalayan difficulties with a familiarity that the European Alps do not provide. Only the altitude is missing. Bryant outlines the history of climbing Everest, and makes note of the special contributions by New Zealanders to the expeditions, especially his participation in the 1935 expedition, a New Zealand botanist accompanying Tilman on his 1949 Nepal excursion, Andrews' fly-over, Hillary and Riddiford's participation in the 1951 reconnaissance, and Hillary and Lowe's participation in the 1952 training and 1953 climb of Mount Everest. He also reminds his readers that Noel Odell, of the 1924 and 1938 expeditions, currently (1953) resides in New Zealand.

Perhaps the only thing hindering this book is its length. Byrant packs a lot of information and illustrations into his 48-page work, but it comes off more as a summary than a history. This would still make an interesting topic for today, with Keith Woodford's 1977 alpine-style expedition (first of its kind on Everest), Peter Hillary's climbs in the 1980s, and the commercial control of Everest first by Hall & Ball's Adventure Consultants and more recently by Russell Brice's Himalayan Experience. You can read more about Bryant's participation in the 1935 reconnaissance (including excerpts from his diary) in Tony Astill's Mount Everest: The Reconnaissance 1935 and more about Hillary's participation in the 1950's expeditions in his High Adventure.

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