Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Wind of Morning, by Hugh Boustead

Hugh Boustead writes his memoirs, including of his participation in the 1933 Everest expedition, in The Wind of Morning. Boustead describes his double career, first in the military, and then as a civil servant in Africa and the Middle East. As a young man, he participates in the Great War, first in the Navy, before deserting to join the Army and fight in the Western Front. He writes as though he was terribly impressed rather than taken aback by the great casualties around him, including his own wounding. He becomes attached to soldiering, and after the war fights first in Russia against the Reds and then moves on to Egypt and the Sudan, where he commands the final mounted unit in the British Empire, the Sudan Defense Force's Camel Corps. After a brief hiatus as a development officer, he returns to military service in Africa during the Second World War, running the Italians out of Ethiopia by 1941. His service as a development officer recommences after the war, serving in Sudan, (what would later be) Yemen, and Oman. His career highlights some lesser-known parts of well-known conflicts, such as his Navy service in southern Africa during WWI, the East African Campaign of WWII, and the southern theater of the Russian civil war. Also, his civil service memories give some interesting early history to regions currently in the news, including Sudan, Darfur, and Yemen.

His Everest material comprises a chapter relatively early in his memoir. He actually went to school at Charterhouse and studied English and History under George Mallory, who kindled his interest in mountaineering. After several Alpine climbing seasons and meeting with Norton after the 1924 expedition, he finds that if he can reach the Zemu Gap below Kanchenjunga, Norton will back him for a future Everest expedition. With the help of Shebbeare and several Everest-veteran Sherpas, he organizes and carries out his climb to the Gap and receives full backing for the 1933 climb. He was actually on his way out of Cairo for a desert expedition in 1932 when a RAF plane landed close by with a telegram invitation for the climb. His description of events on the mountain are fairly similar to other material on the climb, though his presence in the early stages of the climb is readily apparent here, whereas he seems to be a bit of a cipher in many other accounts. (I'm not sure why---perhaps because he had to leave the expedition just as the summit climbs were commencing due to the expiration of his leave.) Like Norton, he believes that recrossing Tibet in the summer on the way back to Darjeeling is worth the effort of the entire trip.

1 comment:

  1. Tilman, after traversing the dangerous and difficult Zemu Gap in 1936, claimed that Boustead, in 1926, climbed a nearby snow col that matches Boustead's description of the route and the conditions he encountered, rather than the Zemu Gap.