Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sivalaya, by Louis C. Baume

Louis C. Baume provides a reference text for the exploration and climbing of the 8000-meter peaks in Sivalaya. For each of the peaks, he writes a general introduction, a list of maps of the area, a chronicle (chronology) of exploration and climbing of the peak, a bibliography, and a drawing of the peak with the route of the first ascent traced upon it. In addition, he writes a general introduction to the Himalayas that focuses on the formation of the mountains, the history of their survey, and the orthography of the place names, including the many names of Mount Everest (55, to be exact). The book is dated now (published in 1979), but it is still a handy reference for the early climbs and explorations of the high peaks.

Baume's Mount Everest material is quite handy. In addition to the orthography of its 55 contested names, there are a number of relatively unique data in the book. In his introduction, he paraphrases Sir Oliver Lodge's Why I Believe in Personal Immortality about his paranormal vision of Mallory and Irvine's death high on Everest. He includes a number of maps in his list, and rates their usefulness. The chronicle includes a number of abortive attempts to set up an expedition, including by Lord Curzon in 1899 and General Bruce in 1908, both through Nepal, and Marta Brevoort's declaration in 1876 of her interest in an attempt. Although his bibliography is by no means exhaustive, he still manages to include some books not found in Salkeld and Boyle's Climbing Mount Everest: The Bibliography. I overall appreciated reading this book. I feel like it clarified my jumbled impression of the history of climbing Makalu, and it was a handy refresher for the early history of exploring the Karakorum. It's easy to navigate for a quick reference, and if you're weird like me, it makes an entertaining through-read. Enjoy!


  1. can you tell me more about what it is about, like do they go through out of this world experiences in reality or does Mt. Everest cause some kind of a hallucinogenetic effect on people that go there? please email:- thanks

    1. If you're interested in the hallucinogenic effects of high altitude, you'd best read Maria Coffey's "Explorers of the Infinite," all about the strange things people experience while on the world's highest mountains.