Books of the month
- Thursday 14 May 2020
Which are the world's greatest climbs? Veteran mountaineer Charles Sherwood is on a mission, not in search of the traditional 'seven summits' but to seek out the most enjoyable climbs on each continent, and in the company of many of the climbing world's best known characters, including Andy Kirkpatrick, Mark Seaton and Stephen Venables. But to what criteria do you measure the best climbs? Rather than the determining factor being height alone, Charles considers the challenge and the variety of the climb and its beauty and heritage. Taking him to the Alps, the Himalaya, the Andes, Kenya, New Zealand and South Georgia, even the most casual reader will note that the author's quest 'is little more than a delightful ruse for having a very good time'.
In the extract below Charles encouters a couple of illegal base jumpers while climbing El Capitan with Andy Kirkpatrick and contemplates whether society is responsible for our safety or whether we are accountable for our own risks.
Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage
Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage is a classic mountaineering narrative that has inspired innumerable climbers. Following Hermann Buhl's inevitable rise from rock climber to one of the all time greatest mountaineers, the book lifts the lid on why his historic ascent of the world's ninth highest mountain was seemly destined to be.
Scroll down to download an extract, in which Hermann tackles the Wetterstein, a mountain group in the Northern Limestone Alps. As tragedy strikes a lone climber, Hermann learns an important lesson that almost made him give up his climbing career.
Conquistadors of the Useless
One of the most celebrated climbers of his generation, Lionel Terray made first ascents in the Alps, Alaska, the Andes, and the Himalaya with many other mountaineering legends including Gaston Rébuffat, Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal. His autobiography documents his career as an Alpine mountain guide and his climbs, including the second ascent of the Eiger North Face, post World War II when climbing achievements captured the energy of post-war optimism and were prized more than any other time in history.
The excerpt below details the history of climbing on the North Face of the Eiger 'the most deadly mountain face in the whole of the Alps'.