- Frank Smythe
- Publication date
- 14 Feb 2014
‘There is no holiday like a mountaineering holiday. For eleven months the mountaineer has sighed for the mountain wind on his cheek, for the lilt of the mountain stream, for the feel of rock in his hand, for the crunch of frozen snow beneath his feet, for the smell of mist and the fragrance of alp and pine forest.
‘In his spare moments he has read about mountains, pored over maps, and studied guidebooks. Then comes the day when he inspects his boots, his ice axe, and his rope. He packs his rucksack. He buys his railway ticket. For two weeks, three weeks, or a month he will escape from civilisation and all its works; he is off to the mountains.’
In Mountaineering Holiday, Frank Smythe takes the reader on his 1939 summer trip to the Alps. He arrives unfit and out of practice, gets caught behind slow climbers and spends rainy days stuck in the valleys. His experiences are instantly recognisable, as is his delight and need for the mountains, and strike a chord with everybody who enjoys the great outdoors. Writing in his typical engaging style, Smythe goes on to record a number of impressive ascents and historic climbs: Mont Tondu, the Aiguille de Bionnassay, the Brenva Face, and an ascent of the Innominata Ridge of Mont Blanc.
Yet this is the 1930s. Mountaineering equipment and techniques are in their infancy. Attitudes within climbing are very different to those of today and many significant first ascents are still to be claimed. Europe is on the brink of war and fearful for the future, and the book’s final climb is made with four young Germans mere days before World War II.
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Frank Smythe was one of the outstanding mountaineers of the early twentieth century. He pioneered major routes in the Alps and Himalaya and was at the centre of high-altitude mountaineering development in its early years.
In the late 1920s Smythe made two important first ascents on the Brenva Face of Mont Blanc. In the 1930s, he went on a series of major Himalayan expeditions, joining an attempt on Kangchenjunga, leading the first ascent of Kamet and playing a key role in multiple Everest attempts.
Smythe wrote twenty-seven immensely popular books about his climbing and exploring. Well-written and wonderfully detailed, his tense depictions of moments of difficulty, danger, relief and elation are compelling, and we are not spared his discomfort, fatigue and dogged struggle. At the same time, there is no keener observer of nature and Smythe’s books are filled with evocative portrayals of cloud, light and colour – from the onset of a thunderstorm to a sublime valley transformed by wild flowers.
- · Title: Mountaineering Holiday
- · Author: Frank Smythe
- · Imprint: Vertebrate Digital
- · ISBN: 9781906148876
- · Publication date: 14 February 2014
- · Price: £5.99