ONLY TWO FOR EVEREST How a first ascent by Riddiford and Cotter shaped climbing history
The First New Zealand Himalayan Expedition, in 1951, was initiated by Earle Riddiford,
who with Ed Cotter and Pasang Dawa Lama made the first ascent of Mukut Parbat, their
target peak in the Garhwal Himalaya. Accompanying them on that expedition, though
not to that summit, were two other New Zealand climbers, Edmund Hillary and George
Hearing of the success on Mukut Parbat, the New Zealand Alpine Club suggested to
the Alpine Club in London that acclimatised New Zealanders would be a valuable asset
on the forthcoming 1951 British Reconnaissance of Mt Everest, to be led by Eric Shipton.
This resulted in an invitation for two New Zealanders to join the party: thrilling
news the four climbers received while they were ensconced in the hill-country village
of Ranikhet. A day and a half of bitter dispute rent the party asunder. Which two
should go to Everest?
In this enthralling narrative, journalist Lyn McKinnon tells the stories of Earle
Riddiford and Ed Cotter, two extraordinary New Zealanders whose climbing achievements
were forever eclipsed by the exploits of others. She draws on private papers as well
as published work, and extensively interviews Cotter himself, and the families of
both men, as well as many other contemporary climbers, to set the record straight.
Published by Otago University Press - Paperback, 170 x 240mm, 320 pages, colour,
ISBN 978 1 927322 40 6, $49.95
A review of Don Whillans Portrait of a Mountaineer in Mountain May 1971 attracts
the comment ‘The book is illustrated, but how poorly. In general the photographs
fail to complement the text‘. Not so here!
available in the UK from Tony Astill at £30 +post www.mountaineeringbooks.org