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Camp Six

The 1933 Everest Expedition

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Frank Smythe’s Camp Six is one of the greatest Everest accounts ever written.

It is the story of the 1933 Everest Expedition, in which Smythe, climbing alone after his partner Eric Shipton had turned back ill, reached a point perhaps higher than any man had done before – and some 20 years before the eventual first ascent. Rope-less, oxygen free and in terrible snow conditions, his climb was one of the greatest endeavours in the history of Everest.

Camp Six is a compelling read: a gripping adventure on the highest mountain in the world and a fascinating window into early mountaineering and Himalayan exploration – including an illuminating colonial view of early travels in Tibet. It is essential reading for all those interested in Everest and in the danger and drama of those early expeditions.

Frank Smythe was one of the leading mountaineers of the twentieth century, an outstanding climber who, in his short life – he died aged 49 –was at the centre of high-altitude mountaineering development in its early years. Author of 27 immensely popular books, he was an early example of the climber as celebrity.

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Frank Smythe was an outstanding climber. In a short life – he died aged 49 – he was at the centre of high-altitude mountaineering development in its early years.

In the late 1920s he pioneered two important routes up the Brenva Face of Mont Blanc, followed in the 1930s by a sequence of major Himalayan expeditions: he joined the attempt on Kangchenjunga in 1930, led the successful Kamet bid in 1931 and was a key player in the Everest attempts of 1933, 1936 and 1938. In 1937, he made fine ascents in the Garhwal in a rapid lightweight style that was very modern in concept.

Smythe was the author of 27 books, all immensely popular. The erudite mountain writers of his era each offer something different. Bill Tilman excelled in his dry humorous observations. Eric Shipton enthused about the mountain landscape and its exploration. Smythe gives us wonderful detail in the climbing. His tense descriptions of moments of difficulty, danger, relief and elation are compelling – and we are not spared the discomfort, fatigue and dogged struggle. He also writes movingly about nature’s more beautiful and tender face – there is no keener observer of cloud, light and colour, the onset of a thunderstorm, or a sublime valley transformed by wild flowers.

There is also a strong feeling of history in his books: the superior attitudes of colonialism that, as the years rolled on, gave way to a more mellow stance and a genuine respect for his Indian and Sherpa companions.
Today, his books make compelling reading: well-written and gripping tales that offer fascinating windows into the history of climbing and exploration. They are essential reading for all those interested in mountaineering and the danger and drama of those early expeditions.

  • Title: Camp Six
  • Sub-title: The 1933 Everest Expedition
  • Author: Frank Smythe
  • Imprint: Vertebrate Digital
  • ISBN: 978-1-906148-79-9
  • Publication date: 15 November 2013
  • Price: £4.99

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