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Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8000-Metre Peak [Paperback]

Maurice Herzog , Joe Simpson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Mar 2011

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JOE SIMPSON

In 1950, no mountain higher than 8,000 meters had ever been climbed. Maurice Herzog and other members of the French Alpine Club resolved to try. This is the enthralling story of the first conquest of Annapurna and the harrowing descent. With breathtaking courage and grit manifest on every page, Annapurna is one of the greatest adventure stories ever told.

As well as an introduction by Joe Simpson, this new edition includes 16 pages of photographs, which provide a remarkable visual record of this legendary expedition.


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Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8000-Metre Peak + The White Spider + Into Thin Air: A personal account of the Everest disaster  - updated 2nd edition
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (3 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099541467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099541462
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'A classic of its kind... His vivid, high powered but never overdramatised account of the ascent still reads splendidly'" (The Irish Times)

"After being swept off his feet by an avalanche and left dangling by a rope around his neck, Herzog 'began to pass water, violently and uncontrollably'. Your reaction may be only slightly less extreme as you move from one nail-biting moment to the next in this wonderful 1952 tale of triumph and frostbite." (Outside)

"Quite simply the greatest mountaineering book ever written." (Joe Simpson, from the Introduction)

"The climb took place before the Himalayas were a tourist attraction and before Gore-Tex cold-weather gear was available in Marks & Spencer. They had no oxygen, little food and on the descent Herzog lost his gloves, got trapped in a storm, was buried in an avalanche and became frostbitten. His descriptions don't stint on the details of maggot-ridden flesh and amputations without anaesthesia" (Richard Eyre)

"Those who have never seen the Himalayas...will know that they have been a companion of greatness" (New York Times Book Review)

Book Description

One of the great works of mountaineering literature.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing tale 11 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Herzog's account of the first ascent of a peak over 8000 metres, in June 1950, is a true adventure. No gortex and sophisticated gear for these men: sweaters, eiderdown jackets, and an ice axe that buckled when it hit rock. Those were the days... Also amazing to think they had to find the peak before they could even start the climb. In the days without GPS - or even an accurate map - the first challenge was to locate the mountain. Incidentally, Herzog is quite scathing about the locals and their way of life. (Interesting, even if a little unfair, to compare with Thubron's 'To a Mountain in Tibet' where the writer is keen to explore the mountain people's beliefs and culture. Herzog only cares about the climb.) Herzog is, I suppose, a man of his time: the European in Asia with all his cultural assumptions. But for all that, their expertise and sheer determination at these altitudes make for a thrilling read.
The Kindle edition is annoying - there is a complete mix-up of the text in Chapter 9 and an irritating tendency for typos where 'c' is often used instead of 'e'. Rather took me aback to read "he yelled in my car" when they were high up on a rock face... If these men could scale Annapurna, surely Amazon can proof-read a book???

PS Amazon now appears to be fixing the problem. Fingers crossed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Guy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Herzog wasn't a professional writer, or one who had many literary ambitions, and in general this is a workmanlike, very factual account of the expedition in 1950 which led to a French team under his leadership becoming the first to bag an 8000m plus peak. It ends up feeling like more than the sum of its parts, though.

The first thing that strikes the reader is how much of an alien landscape the team found themselves in. Merely getting to the Himalayas took months. Once there, they had to reconnoitre the mountains they intended to climb (either Dhaulagiri or Annapurna were their pre-selected targets) in an area so remote and mountainous that for a while they couldn't even find Annapurna despite being within several miles of it. Then, they had to find routes up a mountain no one had even attempted to climb before, in conditions more extreme than they had ever expected.

The story is told with pace and directness, and the story of the eventual triumphal summit bid is told in a way which brilliantly conveys the mixture of euphoria and complete exhaustion on the summit, followed quickly by a realisation that the climbers are in a precipitous situation - suffering from frostbite and the ill effects of altitude Herzog had neglected in his thirst for victory. The descent becomes a horror story. Herzog's narration can occasionally seemed forcibly matter-of-fact earlier in the book, but he comes into his own describing the fear and suffering of a small group stranded high on the mountain, fighting to stay alive until morning, only to face a gruelling descent.

Where the story could become a sentimental story of camaraderie and heroism from this point on, the great honesty of his writing keeps it fascinating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best climbing book ever 3 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read lots of climbing books over the years but this is the best by far! A must!! The retreat off the mountain is an epic story! Hurry up and buy
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Annapurna. 18 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Forget everything that you've read to date about epic climbs.

There can be no mountaineering epic to match Herzog's first climb of Annapurna. Starting with a reconnaissance just to find the mountain(!), which in itself involved climbs that have filled lesser books, followed by an epic climb on uncharted routes, with an imminent monsoon, 1950's climbing equipment, a final push for the summit and dreadful retreat in atrocious weather. With no modern day helicopter ride away from the mountain, even the walk out is a truly awful 5 week torture. The descriptions of the frostbite treatments (I won't spoil the fun) is enough to turn your stomach.

Compare this with the exceedingly dry John Hunt story of the first Everest climb 3 years later and you will find the writing refreshingly honest, for its time. Herzog shares many feelings that lesser men would have kept bottled up is not afraid to admit to mistakes made on the way. The process of finding the mountain and exploring its weaknesses is fascinating, and a massive contrast to the modern day where we accept that you can drive to Everest base camp or plot your climb from Google Earth.

The story is marred only slightly by the post war 'we must have victory at all costs' attitude but, despite being 60+ years old, it is a great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 7 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great read for a mountaineer. Really interesting to find out what was involved in an early expedition, how challenges today which would never occurred were over come. Herzog gives a touching personal account of interactions with local people and other expedition members. Great to see a book which is not about Everest!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Truly gripping adventure 28 Dec 2013
By Phil
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For anyone who loves the mountains, this is an evocative account by the guy who saw it and did it, and who paid a heavy price, but achieved his dream - properly inspiring stuff.
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