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Nanda Devi: Exploration and Ascent Paperback – 1 Dec 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Baton Wicks Publications (1 Dec 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1898573433
  • ISBN-13: 978-1898573432
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 686,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Sep 2000
Format: Paperback
The books of Eric Shipton takes one back to the glorious days of Himalayan exploration when every turn on the mountain trail could reveal a sight, hitherto unknown to human eyes. It is no surprise that some of the grandest secrets of the Himalayas were revealed to probably the most sympathetic, poetic and daring explorers of all time. This book narrates the wonderful and almost fairytale sounding story of exploration of the Nanda devi sanctuary in Garhwal Himalayas one of nature's closely guarded secret. Taking upon the immense gorges of the Rishi Ganga a two man expedition supported by three porters stepped into a land of marvellous beauty never before seen by human eyes. Reading the books takes one upon a blissful journey into the soul of the most beautiful creation of nature.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book about one of the greatest feats of Himalayan exploration of the twentieth century. Written with all the sensitivity that the authors feel for this unique mountain.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Amazing....Truly spectacular book 10 Jun 2004
By "vishu81" - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is truly the most spectacular book I have ever read in my life. There are two parts in the book. The first one "Exploration of Nanda Devi" by Shipton is outstanding. He takes you through the each and every step of their exploration in 1934 which led to discovery of route to Nanda Devi inner sanctuary. Also contains complete histroy of attempts to Nanda Devi and the discovery of route from badrinath to kedarnath. The second part - "Nanda Devi Ascent" is by Tilman - the first one to climb nanda devi in 1936. This part is also good, but he doesn;t seem to have the kind of admiration and love for mountains that shipton shows in his work.
An outstanding book - indeed.
First to Visit the Goddess... 16 Jun 2008
By D.S.Thurlow - Published on
It is difficult to remember, in this age of GPS locators, satellite imagery, and helicopter rescues, that less than one hundred years ago, there were still unexplored places in the world. Eric Shipton's forgotten mountaineering classic "Nanda Devi" is a thrilling account of his 1934 expedition with climbing partner H.W. Tilman and a handful of sherpas into the inner sanctuary of Nanda Devi, a heretofore unvisited major peak in the Himalayas of northern India.

The principal obstacle to the approach to Nanda Devi was a surrounding ring of 20,000 foot peaks. The only obvious gap in this wall was the Rishi Gorge, a deep, steep, and narrow outlet for glacial meltwater. The gorge had defeated several previous expeditions, leaving the "goddess Nanda Devi" unvisited by man. Shipton and Tilman, early practitioners of the light alpine approach to climbing, forged a path up the gorge and became the first to explore the inner sanctuary around the base of Nanda Devi. Shipton recounts how the men raced a dwindling food supply and the approaching monsoon season to solve a serious of cliffs, narrow ledges, and repeated crossings of a raging river.

Shipton and Tilman, forced to leave Nanda Devi before the monsoon made their route impassible, then decided to traverse the Badrinath-Kedarnath watersheds in northern India to see if they were in fact linked. Their traverse required climbing one glacier, crossing a 20,000 foot col, and descending another glacier and miles of extremely steep, jungle-covered mountainside, on a hunch and an ancient legend that their route might lead back to human habitation. The men, beyond the reach of any possible outside assistance, were reduced to eating bamboo shoots and mushrooms, while dead-reckoning through a pathless wilderness. Having survived, they determined on a post-monsoon return to Nanda Devi and an approach to the mountain itself.

Shipton writes in a matter-of-fact, often ironic and humorous style. His respect for his traveling companions is obvious and it is easy to lose sight of the significant risks he and his party were running. Shipton's observations of northern India would make a delightful travelogue all by themselves. The text includes a handful of photographs and a large-scale sketchmap.

"Nanda Devi" is very highly recommended as an enthralling classic of exploration and climbing.
Great book, very well written! 21 Jun 2013
By Kauphy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of my favourite books on Nanda Devi. It's actually two parts - the first written by Shipton about his and Tilman's entry into the Nanda Devi inner sanctuary with a few Sherpas and the second written by Tilman about the first climb of Nanda Devi. While both parts are very informative and very well written, I liked the second part more as I could relate more with Tilman's experiences and his style of writing.

Highly recommended!
An uproarious tale of adventure: told by an impeccably stiff pair of upper lips. 16 Jun 2012
By Matthew Sutton - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The dense erudition of this book took a little getting used to (written in the 30s) coming from the sensationalism of contemporary mountaineering literature. Like many books I abandoned it after a first 30pg or so try only to pick it back up, get hooked, and sprint through it a few days. Both accounts are rich in subtext, irony, and British understatement.

This book features two separate accounts of the exploration (and eventual summiting) of Nanda Devi. The first account is by Shipton and details his and Tilman's 1934 exploration of the Rishi Ganga, Nanda Devi Inner Sanctuary, and the Mana Valley in the Garwhal Himalaya. The second is Tilman's account, sans Shipton, of his leading a joint Anglo-American expedition back to Nanda Devi in 36. They are both masterfully written, with precise, often acerbic prose.

In many ways the first account fascinated me more, being somewhat more akin to the age of exploration (Kipling's gentlemen, their native porters, adventures in poorly mapped exotic lands). Of the two expeditions the first seems the more grueling and uncertain. Shipton records him and Tilman's successful efforts to push into the Inner Sanctuary via the Rishi Ganga gorge--hinted at as a possibility by explorers decades earlier, they would be the first to successfully force their way up it and stand in the Inner Sanctuary of Nanda Devi. After exploring the Nanda Devi basin the pair found themselves with extra-time in India and surreptitiously decided to explore the Kamet/Mana/Badrinath area to the NW of Nanda Devi. Both of these expeditions occasionally take on a note of real desperation, as porters strike, food spoils, etc etc...but Shipton never broods on the negatives for long, instead he meticulously describes their journey in lucid detail. This first book is alive with curiosity about this part of the world: the context of previous exploration and surveys, the religious significance of the pilgrimage sites, the local patterns of commerce, the architecture, the food, the tribal rivalries and customs...ever the gentleman, no internal drama is dwelt on, and all hardships are borne stoically (except where moments of sincerity erupt around how disgusting the morning tea in unwashed mugs is and how absurd mountaineering seems in those moments). The joy of setting foot in the Inner Snactuary at long last and seeing an isolated ecosystem never seen before with human eyes is a true highlight.

Tilman, who admittedly has the slyer, more sardonic sense of humor, was asked by a group of precocious (and probably a bit naive) American climbers if they should attempt to climb of Kachenjunga or Everest. Tilman advises them to attempt Nanda Devi instead--and becomes de facto leader of a return to Nanda Devi (he pioneered the route up the Rishi Ganga after all). This expedition included (among other imminent mountaineers of the day), Charles Houston (who lead 2 of the early US K2 attempts), Pasang Kikuli (one of the greatest Sherpa climbers of all time who I believe died on Weissner's K2 attempt rescuing Dudley Wolfe), Neil Odell (of early Everest fame, who would summit Nanda Devi with Tilman), and a young Sherpa--Tenzing Norgay (who would one day stand first atop Everest). Shipton is regrettably absent from this expedition as he was busy on Everest at the time--ironically he would return to the area again with a survey party as Tilman's group departed.

There's a bit less suspense in the latter account as Tilman is leading a group of mountaineers who are there to climb a mountain, which they successfully do. Still there are some interesting moments--Houston was picked to summit but got food poisoning from a tin of spoiled meat. Odell calls down to the lower camp "Charlie is ill" where Tilman hears "Charlie was killed". In a forward, Houston describes a panicked Tilman's chagrin to find him still alive, and how Tilman became both de facto expel leader but also a lead on the summit rope. The details are particularly interesting and give a glimpse into 'proto-minimalist' approach to the Himalaya these guys had evolved by necessity. Tilman was a strong believer in fast and light assaults, traveling as lightly (didn't believe in tents and packaged food) and with as few porters as needed, living off the land and local foodstuffs as much as possible (his zealous editing of the food at the beginning of the expedition intimidating the Americans), and using only a crack team of specially selected Sherpas from Darjeeling: contrast this with the immense expeditions of the 50s. Also you get the impression that Tilman was a seasoned, resolute, impartial and highly-effective leader who put the well-being and success of his team first and foremost. While his humor spares no one (including himself) there's also no lurid dwelling on dramatic friction between team members--just a relatively straight-forward narrative of the climb. Once Nanda Devi was summited, the highest summit till Annapurna I think, it's all customary understatement: "I believe we so far forgot ourselves as to shake hands on it".

All in all a fantastic bit of adventure literature. In may not have the lyricism of Terray and Kukuczka, the spirituality of Buhl and Hornbein, but it's surely ranks among them as one of the great mountaineering books.
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