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The Mantis

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FINALIST- 2014 Banff Mountain Book Festival


Available from a range of ebook retailers, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo and more.

'It is not the courage to go back up that we need. It’s the courage to go down. Just to go on … '

In 1977 a British expedition led by Himalayan veteran Geoff Strickland, summiteer of K2 and Everest among others, set off to attempt the first ascent of unclimbed Puthemojar – the ‘Mantis’ – in the Karakoram.

25,311 feet high, renowned for its difficulty, and with a fearsome reputation, the Mantis had claimed the life of at least one climber on each of the previous expeditions that had attempted to scale its complex series of ridges and icefalls.

In order to claim the coveted first ascent, Strickland put together a small team comprising the cream of British mountaineering talent: his long-time Himalayan climbing partner and photographer Michael Blackmore; the redoubtable northerner Joe Dodge, as tough as they come; Dodge’s regular partner and another veteran of numerous Himalayan expeditions Doug Lowrie; and two young guns – Brit Alan Wyllie, and Kiwi Peter Chase, a pair who had been tearing up the Alpine rule book with daring ascents on the steepest and most difficult faces.

Although Michael Blackmore’s 1980 record of the climb – The Last Challenge – has become a classic of mountaineering literature, Blackmore himself was never satisfied it told the full story of the events on Puthemojar in 1977. Before his death in 2000, Blackmore had prepared a draft manuscript – a ‘creative narrative’ – of the expedition which, with thanks to Blackmore’s widow, has now been completed by award-winning author and mountaineer Philip Temple.

While perhaps best regarded as a work of fiction, The Mantis tells for the first time the gripping story of that 1977 British expedition to Puthemojar. It is a portrait of these men, their drive, this mountain and a credible testimony of just what went on, high on the Mantis.

Available as an ebook:

Kindle (Amazon U.K. site)
Kindle (Amazon U.S. site)

Philip Temple is a prolific, award-winning and honoured New Zealand author of novels, a wide variety of non-fiction works and children’s books. Born in Yorkshire, UK, he emigrated to New Zealand at age 18 and soon gained a reputation as an exploratory mountaineer. Apart from new climbs in the Southern Alps, he made the first ascent of one of the Seven Summits – the Carstensz Pyramid – with Austrian Eigerwand pioneer Heinrich Harrer in 1962. He later sailed to Heard Island in the sub-Antarctic with the legendary Bill Tilman and took part in the first ascent of its volcano, Big Ben. He led the first winter trek to the Everest region with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

After a spell as an instructor at the New Zealand Outward Bound School, Philip became a full-time author. His anthropomorphic novels, employing Southern Alps kea mountain parrots as characters, are unique in New Zealand literature. His biography of the Wakefield family, the 19th century pioneers of British settlement in New Zealand, earned many awards. Among other honours, Philip Temple has received a Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement and has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his services to literature.

More information about Philip can be found on his website

  • Title: The Mantis
  • Author: Philip Temple
  • Imprint: Vertebrate Digital
  • ISBN: 978-1-906148-88-1
  • Publication date: 3 March 2014
  • Price: £4.99

'The marketing gimmick that has been employed to help Philip Temple’s latest novel, The Mantis, stand out from the crowd of e-books is the pretence – made in the preface to the text and sustained by anything a Google search can turn up – that this is the true story of a mountaineering expedition. But if there’s any justice, the novel will have no need of gimmicks. It’s terrific and quite the best thing its author has ever done with fiction. The characters – especially the fussy, bossy Strickland and the acerbic, super-competent Dodge – are superbly drawn and utterly credible. And of course the moral dilemmas are exquisite, even in an environment where, as the words of an imaginary philosopher of mountaineering have it, “the importance of all moral values is reduced in inverse proportion to the height of the mountain”.'
- John McCrystal, The Listener 

'This venture into the mountains illustrates why versatile author Philip Temple is among Dunedin and New Zealand's elite literati. Once I had sorted who was who, I became engrossed in the characters of this ebook and their attempt to scale a peak Temple has called 'The Mantis' in the Karakoram Range in the Himalayas.
Under the almost indescribable stress of endertaking a near-impossible task in fearfully hostile conditions, the six men are stripped to their cores... There develops an empathy which each person's predicament both despite and because of their abilities and foibles, their slfishness and selflessness.'

- Philip Somerville, Otago Daily Times

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