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Nanda Devi: A Journey to the Last Sanctuary Hardcover – 8 Apr 2004
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Thomson tells a story that has to do with politics, ecology and history, as much as with the strenuous adventure in a beautiful setting that his book so vividly celebrates. (INDEPENDENT (9.4.04))
NANDA DEVI is...a spirited homage to a remote, awesome landscape. Rich in detail and light of tone, it teases its stories out slowly and gently and, by playing down the physical discomforts, will make non-climbers wants to travel to the Sanctuary. (Chris Moss TELEGRAPH (24.4.04))
Thomson has a nose for stories...[And] the photographs in Hugh Thomson's book...picture the sensational and, yes, holy landscape in which all the events he describes took place. (Geoffrey Moorhouse GUARDIAN (24.4.04))
Gripping. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE (1.5.04))
the book offers...a welcome escape to somewhere rare and wonderful. (SUNDAY TIMES (9.5.04))
This book eloquently lays out the often bizarre, and always interesting history of this remote area and its explorers, as well as charting the author's own expedition into the sanctuary...Informative, yet never dry, the book offers an insight into place of near mythical status and takes the reader where they will never have the chance to go. (ADVENTURE TRAVEL (1.5.04))
Thomson weaves the story of his own journey to this Himalayan lost Eden with accounts of earlier expeditions, to give a tantalizing glimpse of this fragile, harshly beautiful place. (GLOBAL (May '04))
fascinating. (WANDERLUST (June/July '04))
Thomson effortlessly blends his own experiences and anecdotes from his fellow team members with tales of expeditions past, providing an all-encompassing picture of both the beauty and history of the sanctuary...Thomson's engaging and descriptive style drawns you in, imparting a burning desire to pull on a pair of hiking boots and join him for even the post terrifying of traverses. (GEOGRAPHICAL (October))
The Nanda Devi Sanctuary in the Himalayas is reopened for a unique visit. An incredible opportunity to discover its secrets before they are lost again to the world.See all Product description
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But I needn't have worried. It is a fascinating ramble through the author's own expedition and through the history of Nanda Devi. Not just the attempts to climb the mountain itself, but the attitudes and history of the surrounding area, the sanctuary, if you will. Apparently early attempts to explore the mountain were thwarted by how difficult it is just to approach the mountain, plus the government's tendency not to allow access to it. The fact that the author gained permission was perhaps as great a feat as climbing to the top!
Thomson shows a reverence for the area and its history, and seems to tell a balanced history of earlier attempts. I had read brief descriptions of the death of the woman mountaineer who was named after this mountain, but not enough to appreciate how tragic it was. Thomson's description of that expedition will allow me to read the earlier book on the subject with a more critical eye, because "official" expedition books sometimes present a sanitized depiction of events and team dynamics.
So I guess the sentence I read was correct: this is not strictly speaking a book on mountaineering, but there were elements of a few genres: travel, biography, and yes, climbing, and I was happy with the result.
Written in a straight forward manner, keeping our interest but not making the read a job with complicated plots and subplots.
Recommended to us by someone not interested in mountain adventures, but who never the less enjoyed the book.
Includes color and b/w photos.