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5.0 out of 5 stars The Unsung Hero Of Everest, 29 May 2013
This review is from: Everest - The First Ascent: The untold story of Griffith Pugh, the man who made it possible (Hardcover)
The conquest of Everest on 29th May, 1953, was celebrated on it's 40th anniversary at the Royal Geographical Society in the presence of the Queen. Members of the 1953 expedition were in attendance, including Dr Griffith Pugh, then 83, and his daughter Harriet, the book's author. She writes of her father, 'he had been a remote and irascible parent. I didn't get on with him, and I had never asked him about his work and knew little about it. I had always been vaguely aware that my mother felt he hadn't received fair credit for his achievements'. The praises of the leader Sir John Hunt, logistical support of George Band, organisational abilities of Charles Wylie and skill and determination of Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay were aired but no mention of Griffith Pugh. In Hunt's bestselling book 'The Ascent Of Everest' Pugh was barely mentioned. Hunt claimed credit for the elaborate preparations. How it must have been a shock at the anniversary when the expedition doctor, Michael Ward, spoke, singling out Griffith Pugh as the man who had been central and pivotal to the success of the 1953 expedition.

In 2003, the BBC broadcast 'The Race For Everest', Griffith's name nor his role in the expedition were mentioned. This was the trigger that stimulated Harriet to find more about her father, the man she knew so little about, who had largely ignored her, his other children and his wife. Meticulous research through archived material, interviews with surviving acquaintances of 'Griff' and the astonishing find of a suitcase full of his personal letters in the attic of their old house led to this publication. She had also spoken to the surviving members of the expedition including Hilary.

Taking eight years to write, the full extent of Griffith Pugh's contribution to the successful conquest of Mount Everest is now apparent. Obstinate and selfish he may have been, but a genius in understanding the necessities of meticulous preparation to succeed where every other attempt on the world's highest mountain had failed. This book is a wonderful testament to his knowledge, skills and endeavours. Pugh was an Olympic skier. He later worked with NASA and sports science including slipstreaming for cycling and running that are still practised today. He died in 1994. Harriet Tuckey is to be congratulated for her determination to set the record straight. Writing his life story has 'banished the last vestige of umbrage from his daughter's unforgiving heart'. A magnificent achievement and thoroughly enjoyable account of a man of brilliance during times when a pragmatic scientific approach to high-altitude climbing was frowned on. Fortunately, the methods were developed and adopted replacing the well-intentioned amateurish gusto of the Alpine Club. Many lives have been saved using these ground-breaking techniques and many peaks conquered. Well-illustrated, vibrant and quite moving. Highly recommended.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Jun 2013 03:22:06 BDT
Bill Bloggs says:
Thanks for a great review. I have just read about the book in the "Spectator" and will be buying it.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2014 00:31:19 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 17 Jan 2014 06:12:17 GMT]
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