The Last Blue Mountain, an extract
- Thursday 19 December 2019
In September 1957 four young climbers attempted to reach the summit of Mount Haramosh, a 24,270-foot peak in the Karakoram range in Pakistan. With no viable route forward and the expedition nearing its end, the team decided to turn back but, without warning, an avalanche swept two of the expedition members, Bernard Jillott and John Emery, hundreds of metres down the mountain, into a snow basin.
The other two men, Tony Streather and Rae Culbert, attempted to rescue them but they become stranded too. Jillott and Emery climbed a crevass and made it back to camp to restock vital supplies and recuperate but, on the way back to rescue their friends, Jillott failed to notice a sheer drop and fell to his death.
Streather made it back to camp also but he and Emery had no chance of saving Culbert and he died on the mountain.
A story of the bond between climbers a tragic twist of fate, The Last Blue Mountain is deemed to be one of the best mountaineering books ever written. In the extract below, the avalanche descends on Emery and Jillott as the other two men watch on helplessly.
None of the four climbers cared to think about the time. This was their last day on Mount Haramosh, and they would prolong this moment. It was worth coming all this way for this view alone. They were relaxed and happy, a team as never before.
It was in keeping with their mood of elation that they should want to reach just one more dominant point before going down. Emery roped up with Jillott, and the two men prepared to move off. The pinnacle was only about a hundred feet distant and the slope up to it was easy. Streather had taken several photographs and was preparing to take a last shot.
Suddenly there was a muffled explosion followed by a crunching, tearing sound, and the snow on which Jillott and Emery were standing began to move. Streather and Culbert stood like statues, horrified by the ghastly sight of their two comrades being swept helplessly past them with sudden and terrifying acceleration, down the convex slope and away out of sight.
We will publish 200 special hardback, cloth-bound editions which will be signed by Ed Douglas, who is writing the forward, and available for £24. There will also be a standard paperback edition available for £12.99. Click HERE for more details.