Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Great True Mountain Stories, edited by Edmund V. Corbett

Edmund Corbett pulls together a collection of mountaineering stories from a range of sources in Great True Mountain Stories. The 1957 collection includes a number of classics, such as excerpts from Whymper's account of the ascent and tragedy on the Matterhorn and Albert Smith's account of the first ascent of Mont Blanc, but also has a surprising number of current excerpts, including Herzog's Annapurna, Herrligkoffer's Nanga Parbat, Hillary's High Adventure, Evan's Kanchenjunga: The Untrodden Peak, Houston and Bates' K2: The Savage Mountain, and a newspaper account of a climbing tragedy on Mont Blanc from the year of the collection's publication. Also included are a couple of rarer treasures, such as Abraham's account of the death of Owen Glynne Jones and Egeler's account of a close call with Lionel Terray on Huantsan from The Untrodden Andes. Corbett introduces each work, and does a fairly good job of picking excepts that work on their own.

The book includes three Everest excerpts. Corbett chooses Mallory's account of the third attempt on the mountain from The Assault on Mount Everest 1922, from the return of Finch and Bruce to Base Camp to the after effects of the great avalanche. Next is Noel Odell's fruitless search for Mallory and Irvine from Younghuband's The Epic of Mount Everest, from his first night at Camp V to his signaling Camp IV the tragic news. Last is Edmund Hillary's account, from High Adventure, of his summit climb with Tenzing Norgay, from stepping out of the Camp IX tent to the final "whacks" to the summit. Of related interest are two excerpts from Smythe books (about Kamet and Kanchenjunga) and Charles Evan's account of the 1955 Kanchenjunga climb.

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