Mount Everest: The Reconnaissance, 1921

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Longmans, Green and Company, 1922 - Everest, Mount (China and Nepal) - 356 pages
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A must-read for anyone interested in Mallory. Mallory's contribution to the book, 'The Reconnaissance of the Mountain', is about 100 pages long and is beautifully written. He starts his account by describing what was known of Everest before the 1921 expedition: 'it was a triangulated peak with a position on the map; but from the mountaineer's point of view almost nothing was known'. There follows a fascinating account as Mallory and Bullock explore first the Rongbuk Glacier, and later the Kharta Valley, trying to work out the structure of the ridges and glaciers surrounding Everest - as well as trying to plot a viable route to the top. The account also gives a great insight into Mallory the person.
There are several other sections in the book written by various other members of the expedition. The longest section, by the expedition leader Howard-Bury, is very dated - but gives an interesting perspective of life in rural Tibet in the 1920s - as well as conveying the excitement of going into a land which at the time was almost unmapped and unknown to westerners.
Since the copyright has expired, you can (legally) download the e-book for free - either in pdf or epub format. (The epub version is only just readable. It seems to have been produced by a crude OCR program - which frequently introduces random punctuation marks in the middle of words, and often renders 'li' or 'll' as 'U' - so 'live' becomes 'Uve'.)
Rick Turton

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