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Ever since the first World War, French mountaineers have been in the forefront in the field of Alpine achievement. They have been very largely responsible for the astonishing advance in climbing technique during the last 30 years.
The story of the climbing of Annapurna is a remarkable one; in some respects it is unique. Those with experience of the problems of high altitude climbing know well how small are the chances of reaching the top of the peak of more than 25,000 feet in any given season.
The Approaches to Annapurna were quite unknown. The expedition had not only to find a practicable route to the summit; they had first to find a way of reaching the mountain. It is this triple accomplishment of successful exploration, reconnaissance, and assault, all within the brief season between the melting of the winter snows and the onset of the monsoon, that places the achievement of the French expedition, reconnaissance, and assault, all within the brief season between the melting of the winter snows and the onset of the monsoon, that places the achievement of the French expedition in a class by itself, and has won our wholehearted administration and applause.
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Before Everest, there was Annapurna. Maurice Herzog led an expedition of French climbers to the summit of this 26,000-foot Himalayan peak in 1950. At the time of the assault, it was the highest mountain ever climbed, a remarkable feat in itself made all the more remarkable by the fact that it had never previously been charted. Herzog and his team not only had to climb the darn thing, they had to find the route. As riveting as the tale of the ascent remains nearly half a century later, the story of the descent through virtually unsurvivable--think avalanche and frostbite, for starters--conditions is unforgettable. Herzog's masterful account, finally back in print, is a monument of courage and spirit, an epic adventure excitingly told.From the Back Cover:
In 1950, no mountain higher than 8,000 meters had ever been climbed. Maurice Herzog and other members of the French Alpine Club had resolved to try. Their goal was a 26,493-foot Himalayan peak called Annapurna. But unlike other climbs, which draw on the experience of prior reconnaissance, the routes up Annapurna had never been analyzed before. Herzog and his team had to locate the mountain using sketchy, crude maps, pick out a single, untried route, and go for the summit. Annapurna is the unforgettable account of this dramatic and heroic climb, and of its harrowing aftermath. Although Herzog and his comrade Louis Lachenal reached the mountain's summit, their descent was a nightmare of frostbite, snow blindness, and near death. With grit and courage manifest on every page, Herzog's narrative is one of the great mountain-adventure stories of all time. (5 1/2 X 8 1/4, 314 pages, b&w photos, maps)
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