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Why We Don’t Publish Everest Books

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Jon Barton explains why we abstain from Everest-related literature ...

For a time there I was proud of our lack of Everest books. Smug even, self-righteous. We were winning awards, we were a powerhouse of climbing literature. But no, we didn't have any Everest books. We had other walking guides, Day Walks in the Lake District is a classic, but no, not the Big E. That all changed. At first it was by acquiring and saving Baton Wicks that, dusting off a few covers we saw the word, Everest (The Cruel Way), then another Everest (Expedition to the Ultimate), oh and more Everest (1951), Mount Everest (1938), and Camp Six, what mountain could possibly be so high as to need six camps? Oh the shame. Doug Scott's Himalayan Climber, there it was again. Chris Bonington Mountaineer

Oh what the hell, Mallory and Irvine were missing, worse still the expedition account The Fight for Everest was out of print, oh the horror!  

The Fight for Everest, sort of didn't count, it was an old book, but then all this archive material, much never-before published, came to light and before we knew it we'd gone to town and produced what's widely regarded as the best historic book on the mountain. Into The Storms we headed, Mike Trueman had a habit of attracting bad weather, survivor of the Fastnet storm and the 96 storm he had a story to tell, as did Matt Dickinson, he had an entire trilogy. There was even talk of a special Everest books imprint: FFS. 

When the unassuming Martin Boysen submitted his manuscript. I found myself asking him to 'flesh out the South West Face epic storm’ he'd found himself in. What had become of me? Doug Scott climbed to the summit in chapter nineteen of Up and About. I found myself lying to bookshop chain buyers, 'yes of course Moffatt's climbed on Everest, it's just this book focusses more on his Peak District bouldering'. What the hell, we snapped up the chance to publish Edward Norton's biography, the man had done so much in his life, but Norton of Everest seemed like a sensible title. Piled high I can't see the top of our Everest pages, and such is the summit fever I don't think we're anywhere near the peak of our Everest publishing. 

I guess as a publisher of mountain literature you can't ignore the lure of Everest and the stories that unfold on its slopes. As a reader, if you must read about failure, look no further than The Fight for Everest, and success, then Doug Scott's Up and About takes some beating. But, if you're still young, and your mind still free, then maybe read The Bond, or In Some Lost Place, not an oxygen bottle in sight during these two epics.

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