Mount Everest : The Reconnaissance 1935 by Tony Astill
MOUNT EVEREST - MOUNTAINEERING BOOKS
Eric Shipton, H.W. (Bill) Tilman mountaineering books for sale.
Winner of the James Monroe Thorington award for best book in Mountaineering History
at Banff Mountain Festival 2006 - buy from the author at £30 + post (signed £40)
A VERYHANDSOMEBOOKWHICHLARGELYCONSISTSOFCONTEMPORARYDIARYEXTRACTS, LINKEDBYHISOWNCOMMENTARIES, FILLSTHEHALF-CENTURYGAPINTHE EVERESTRECORDANDBRINGSTHEWHOLEENTERPRISEVIVIDLYTOLIFE. ITALLMAKESCOMPELLINGMOUNTAINREADING, COURTESYOF TONY ASTILL - JAN MORRIS, THE TIMES
DENSE, AUTHORITATIVEANDENTERTAINING, ISBEAUTIFULLYPRODUCED - AWORTHYCONCLUSIONTOSUCHASUSTAINEDANDENTHUSIASTICEFFORT - JIM PERRIN
THE FORGOTTEN ADVENTUREISAHEROICRECOUNTINGINABSORBINGANDFASCINATINGDETAIL,
INTIMATELYTOLD, ROMANTIC, SEAT-OF-YOUR-PANTSTALEOF 1930'SEXPLORATORYMOUNTAINEERING
- ANDTHEREST IS HISTORY - ED WEBSTER, AMERICAN ALPINE JOURNAL
This ‘Forgotten Adventure’ is the record of the fifth expedition to Mount Everest,
a story which has remained more or less untold. Little had previously been written
about this small, lightweight reconnaissance since the leader, Eric Shipton read
his report to the Royal Geographical Society which was published in the Society’s
Journal and those of the Alpine Club and the Himalayan Club in 1936.
The Everest Committee had applied for permission to make another attempt on Everest,
again led by Ruttledge for 1936, but in the meantime they the Tibetans gave permission
for another expedition in 1935. The objectives of the Reconnaissance being :
1. To collect data about monsoon snow conditions at high altitudes
2. To examine the possibility of alternative routes from the west
3. To report on the present ice formations on the North Col.
4. To try out new men as possible candidates for the main expedition
5. To try out new designs of tents and other equipment
6. To carry our a stereo-photogrammetric examination
For the first time, the story of this important, although little known, British Mount
Everest expedition is told. Written using the diaries and reports of the team members,
this new book now completes the history of Everest exploration by filling the gap,
so long empty, on the shelves of libraries and mountaineering collections. The foreword
is by Lord Hunt of Llanfair Waterdine, who led the successful 1953 expedition, with
an introduction by Sir Edmund Hillary and an appreciation by Dr. Charles Clarke,
Chairman of The Mount Everest Foundation.
Led by Eric Shipton, this fifth Mount Everest expedition gave a 19 year old Sherpa
Tenzing his first mountaineering opportunity and 18 years later he and Ed Hillary
made the first ascent of Everest. Dan Bryant, was the first New Zealander to climb
in the Everest region, joining the others, Bill Tilman, Edmund Wigram, Edwin Kempson,
the surveyor Michael Spender and Charles Warren who found the body of Maurice Wilson,
the Everest aviator, which they ‘buried‘ in a crevasse.
During a ‘veritable orgy’ of mountain climbing they had reached the summit of 26
peaks, all over 20,000ft. high and had lived mainly ‘off the country’, sheep being
plentiful and inexpensive, also there was an almost unlimited supply of eggs, over
100 were frequently consumed between them in a single day!
Despite suffering from altitude, Bryant had opened the way for a New Zealander to
return with Shipton for the next reconnaissance in 1951 , where Michael Ward and
his companions found the route to the South Col from where Everest could be climbed.
Tilman made a successful ascent of Nanda Devi in 1936 and returned to Everest in
1938 with Warren and Shipton, who with Kempson and Wigram been on the 1936 Everest
expedition. This fine expedition had answered all the questions put to them and made
a strong case for the superiority of a light mobile party over `heavy cumbersome
Dan Bryant suffered terribly from altitude, spending many days in camp until he,
with Shipton climbed in the Lingtren Nup group and enjoyed a wonderful time. Michael
Spender accomplished a wonderful piece of map-making, the result being a map of the
North Face of Mount Everest. Edwin Kempson walked back to Darjeeling with one sherpa.
Shipton, Wigram, Tilman and Bryant set off up the Main Rongbuk glacier and with the
idea of climbing as one party but decided to form two parties, one to reach the Lho
La and try to force a way down into the Nepal side, while the other was to go up
the West Rongbuk glacier. They attempted to climb Changtse, the North Peak in order
to take telephotographs of the upper part of Everest and get experience of monsoon
snow, but owing to the bad condition of it, the struggle was abandoned. The Everest
region was left behind as they set out on a high level route towards Kharta. There
were problems with the Sherpas due to rations being short.
After travelling, climbing, exploring and surveying across country, the party reached
Rongbuk on July 4th. The reconnaissance began and within a week camp had been established
on the North Col. On July 9th. The body of Maurice Wilson was found by Charles Warren.
Shipton discussed making an attempt on the summit, but conditions deteriorated and
the North Col was abandoned in treacherous conditions. The country between the East
Rongbuk Glacier and the Doya La was explored.
The party assembled in Darjeeling about May 21st. They took with them, as interpreter,
Karma Paul, who had served on all the Everest Expeditions except the first, and fifteen
Sherpa and Bhotia porters amongst whom were some old friends, Angtharkay, Pasang
Bhotia, Tsering Tharkay, and Rinzing. There was one Tibetan lad, a newcomer, chosen
largely because of his attractive grin. His name was Tensing Norkay - or Tensing
Bhotia as he was generally called and a friend of Angtharkay‘. He was only nineteen
years old and was to make the first ascent of Everest, with Edmund Hillary 18 years
later, almost to the day.
Mount Everest : The Reconnaissance 1935 is the book which has been missing from the
annals of Everest climbing and exploration, but now completes the history and fills
the gap in any collection of Everest books. The story is told from the diaries, letters
and photographs written and taken by members of the team, particularly Dan Bryant
(the first New Zealander on Everest), Edmund Wigram, Edwin Kempson, Charles Warren
and Bill Tilman. Introductions of these characters are written by Norman Hardie,
Kim Meldrum, Peter Steele and Audrey Salkeld.
With 360 pages and 10 maps, including 3 original sketch maps drawn on the spot by
members of the team it also contains other important new and re-drawn maps by Ted
Hatch of the Royal Geographical Society, with a route map of Tibet from Darjeeling
to Everest. The Northern Face of Mount Everest from a Photogrammetric Survey by Michael
Spender (by permission of the Royal Geographical Society) is reproduced in colour
and original size on the unique double dust wrapper and includes a new sketch map
of the region of the Nyönno Ri range and the region north Mount Everest map which
show a the route of the expedition, their camps, survey stations and the peaks climbed
The Royal Geographical Society have generously given permission for the reproduction
of over 200 original photographs, taken by Dan Bryant and the other team members,
to illustrate the book, almost none of which have been previously published.
The Royal Geographical Society in London has a wonderful picture library which houses
some of the very finest images of Mount Everest taken by members of the British Everest
Expeditions between 1921 and 1953.