Category Archives: books

Nanda Devi

Nanda Devi

Two Himalayan classics on Nanda Devi: The Ascent of Nanda Devi by H W Tilman (1937) and Nanda Devi by Eric Shipton (1936)

Among the books on my shelf are two first editions of Himalayan classics on Nanda Devi (7816m), a beautiful mountain in the Kumaon Himalaya, India. I grew up in the hill town of Nainital and I could see this peak from the hill tops around town, so this mountain and these books have a special significance to me. The fist is The Ascent of Nanda Devi by H W Tilman (Macmillan, 1937) and the second is Nanda Devi by Eric Shipton (Hodder & Stoughton, 1936).

Nanda Devi

This first edition is signed by Charles Houston, the expedition leader

Bill Tilman’s The Ascent of Nanda Devi, a first edition, is signed by Charles Houston, the expedition leader. At the time Nanda Devi was the highest mountain ever climbed.

Nanda Devi

Nanda Devi (7816m), Kumaon Himalaya, India

This is the view of Nanda Devi (7816m) on the right and Trishul (7120m) on the left from Kasar Devi near the town of Almorah in Kumaon. Trishul was first climbed in 1907 by A L Mumm, T G Longstaff and was the highest peak climbed at the time. The record was broken in 1937 with Tilman’s ascent of Nanda Devi.

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Caravans of the Himalaya

Another beautiful book on my shelf is Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (Thames and Hudson, 1994) an account of their two year stay with the Dolpo-pa nomads who live in the Himalayas and on the Chang Tang plateau in Tibet. Eric Valli is well known for his book on the honey hunters of Nepal. Visit the author’s website for more fantastic photography.

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

The sky will be my roof; the earth my bed;
The grass, my soft pillow.
Like the clouds and the streams
I will traverse these immense deserts alone.
– Ekai Kawaguchi

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Karma and other villagers aim for the demon’s heart, to kill the evil spirits that are hunting Sara

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Little Karma climbs the Kabre La (17,000 ft)

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

The yaks sometimes use a trail near the lake Ringmo

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Curious villagers are sheltered from the rain while watching the caravan pass

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Tilen and his yaks en route to the land of grain

Caravans of the Himalayas by Eric Valli and Diane Summers (1994)

Three generations are shown in this picture

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Sir Richard Francis Burton

An interesting set of books on my shelf on the fascinating explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton. Burton was much more than an explorer though he was a linguist, ethnographer, and man of letters. Pilgrim to Mecca and Harar; discoverer of Lake Tanganyika; translator of the Arabian Nights; controversialist and iconoclast. I was introduced to Burton by my father, who is a total burton fanatic.

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Of the gladest moments in human life, methinks is the departure upon a distant journey to unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the Slavery of Home, man feels once more happy. The blood flows with the fast circulation of childhood….afresh dawns the morn of life…
Burton’s Journal Entry (2 December 1856)

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Some books on Sir Richard Francis Burton on my shelves

I have a few books on Burton on my shelves but have not got into collecting his works as they are expensive and highly sought after; a game for people with deep pockets.

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In 2004, while living in London, accompanied by my father I paid a visit to Burton’s mausoleum at St Mary Magdalen Roman Catholic Church in Mortlake.

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Burton’s mausoleum is shaped like a bedouin tent and has a glass window in the rear where you can peer into the crypt and view the coffins of Sir and Lady Burton.

Sir Richard Francis Burton

My books on Sir Richard Francis Burton

Another shot of my modest Burton collection

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Detail on Sir Richard Francis Burton’s mausoleum

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Detail on Sir Richard Francis Burton’s mausoleum

Also posted in travel

Mountaineering in the Himalayas – 1883

Mountaineering in the Himalayas – Views of Nanda Devi, Partly ascended by Mr Graham and other Himalayan peaks

Mountaineering in the Himalayas

The Graphic, September 22, 1883, P289 (Click on image for full size)

This is from a report from probably the first European mountaineering expedition in the Kumaon Himalayas. WW Graham along with two Swiss guides, Emil Boss and Ulrich Kauffmann, went on an expedition to the mountains of Kumaon and Sikkim. He made the ascent of several peaks including Kabur 7315m; his claims were met with much skepticism.

This page from The Graphic newspaper was published in September 22, 1883 and show views of peaks Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot and the hill towns of Almora, Raniketh and Bageshwar.

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The Karakoram: Mountains of Pakistan by Shiro Shirahata

The Karakoram: Mountains of Pakistan by Shiro Shirahata

The Karakoram: Mountains of Pakistan by Shiro Shirahata

The Karakoram: Mountains of Pakistan by Shiro Shirahata (Cloudcap, Seattle, WA, 1990): I have been hunting for this magnificent book for many years now. It’s available on the internet but it ranges anywhere from $300 to $150; depending on condition and edition. I managed to pick up a first edition of the book for $70 at a local bookshop down the road. It’s in flawless condition; obviously looked after by someone who really appreciated it. I am thrilled to finally be able to thumb through Shirahata’s grand photographs of these awe inspiring mountains.  I have never been to the Karakoram but dream of travelling there at some stage.

Here is a few samples of the photographs in the book:

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Trango Tower

 

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The mighty K2

 

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Fairy Meadow, Nanga Parbat

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My latest find at a local rare bookshop

Central Asia and Tibet by Sven Hedin

Central Asia and Tibet : Towards the Holy City of Lassa / by Sven Hedin

Central Asia and Tibet : Towards the Holy City of Lassa by Sven Hedin (London : Melbourne : Hurst and Blackett ; George Robertson, 1903 2 v). My latest find at a local bookshop. Have been after this book for a while but they are well out of my price range. Got these at a fraction of the price. That’s why I love browsing through old bookshops. You never know what you’ll find.

Here are a couple of maps from the book

Map of Central Tibet

Map of Central Tibet showin Sven Hedin’s route from Leh to Pangong Tso and across Tibet till Addan Tso (Click on the map for larger version)

This one was torn out but thankfully still intact

Map of the Tarim River

Map of the Tarim River (Click on the map for a larger version)

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8000m peaks: first ascent, first editions

8000m first ascents first editions

First editions of the first ascents of seven 8000m peaks

The other day I came across a list of books on the first editions of the first ascents of the 14 8000 meter peaks. I went through my library to see how many of them I owned and came up with seven. All seven have dust jackets and a couple of them are very rare and expensive. These are the first english language editions about these expeditions; some were originally published in other languages. Here are the titles and editions of my books shown in the photograph above:

  • Dhaulagiri 8167m
    The Ascent of Dhaulagiri by Max Eiselin, Oxford University Press, 1961
  • Everest 8848m
    The Ascent of Everest by John Hunt, Hodder and Stoughton, 1953
  • Cho Oyu 8201m
    Cho Oyu, By Favour of the Gods by Herbert Tichy, Methuen, 1957
  • Annapurna 8091m
    Annapurna by Maurice Herzog, Jonathan Cape, 1952
  • Nanga Parbat 8126m
    Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage by Hermann Buhl, Hodder and Stoughton, 1956
  • Makalu 8485m
    Makalu, a Team Triumphant by Jean Franco, Jonathan Cape, 1955
  • Kanchenjunga 8586m
    Kanchenjunga, the Untrodden Peak by Charles Evans, Hodder and Stoughton, 1956

It’s just by chance, on a visit to Hobart in Tasmania last weekend, that I picked up a fine copy of Cho Oyu, By Favour of the Gods by Herbert Tichy in a secondhand book shop for a very reasonable price. The first edition of that book in a dust jacket sells for anywhere between $300 to $600, depending on the condition.

Himalayan books

A few more treasures of travel and Himalayan mountaineering literature sitting on my shelf

I am missing the next seven, so it looks like I am now condemned to go out and hunt for the missing books. As if I needed another excuse to go out book hunting! Here is the list of the books I have to seek out. Luckily, after doing my research, it looks like I have already own the rare and expensive editions, except for Manaslu 1954-56 published by the Japanese Alpine Club. This one goes for $500 to $1000. I love a challenge and it wouldn’t be interesting if they were all easy to find. Here is the list:

  • K2 8611m
    Ascent of K2 by Prof, Ardito Desio , Elek, London, 1955
  • Lhotse 8516m
    The Everest Lhotse Adventure by Albert Eggler, Harper, New York, 1957
  • Broad Peak 8051m
    Broad Peak by Richard Sale, Carreg, Ross-on-Wye, 2004
  • Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak) 8080m
    A walk in the sky – Climbing Hidden Peak by Nick A. Clinch, The Mountaineers, 1982
  • Gasherbrum II 8035m
    White Mountains – Black people by Fritz Moravec, Austrian Federal publisher 1958 (German-language edition)
  • Manaslu 8163m
    Japanese Alpine Club “Manaslu 1954-6”, The Mainichi Newspapers 1956 Incl. 13-page eng. Summary.
    In Volume 12 (1958-59) of “Mountains of the World”, there are two items on 15 pages in German: Yuko Mani (Exp.leiter) and Toshio Imanishi (summit team) on the successful expedition of 1956 in Volume 9 is also one item included.
  • Shishapangma 8027m
    English reports in:

    • Guozi Shuddian “Mountaineering in China”, Foreign Language Press 1965
    • Zhou Zeng & Liu Zhenkai: “Footprints on the peaks: Mountaineering in China”, Cloudcap 1995th
    • “Photographic record of the Mount Shisha Pangma Scientific Expedition “, Science Press Beijing 1966th
    • Books on this climb do not exist, but inthere is a reference and photos in a book by Manfred Abelein titled “Shisha Pangma”.

Happy hunting!

 

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A Woodsman’s Trail in Darkest London

Woodmans Trail in Darkest London - Times

I found this newspaper article from The Times about an account of a meeting with the legendary Jim Corbett. I think the best bit is about Jim Corbett getting lost in the urban jungle that is London. He forgets the name of his hotel and uses his jungle tracking skills to find his way back. This is how it goes:

On arriving in London Jim Corbett says “I had an evening meal in the hotel but the buildings were so marvellous that I had to go out and see them. However far I went, they were always different; and so I went on until the streets were empty. There was a policeman so I said: “How do I get back to the Hotel?” “We have a good many hotels in South Kensington”, he said, “but if you tell me its name I can probably help you”. “Oh, I never asked the name.” “Well, what street was it in?” “I’m afraid I didn’t ask either”. “I’m no good to you, then, sir; so good-night!”

The first step was easy; it was to walk back as far as I could see from where I had halted. After that I went slowly, picking up one clue after another – perhaps a broken window upstairs, or a shop sign that had for one second reflected a lamp as it swung. The worst place was where a lot of roads met; I think it must have been Piccadilly Circus. I went a little way down each in turn. One seemed to have too steep a slope, so did the next one. One was too short and one had a curve that I couldn’t recognise.

Finally I found my way; my eye picked out a poster that had one corner torn away. Soon I came to another place with four or five roads leading off it, and here I was almost stumped. But somewhere about there had been a narrow gully between two tall buildings, where the wind had blown on my right cheek as I passed. Sure enough, I found the gully, and the wind was now on my left cheek, so I went on. Sometimes I had to go over the ground twice, but I got back to the hotel, with some part of the night still left.”

Click on the article to view a larger copy and read the rest of the account.

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