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Vast Unknown, The -- America's First Ascent of Everest

Coburn, Broughton

144 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0307887146 / ISBN 13: 9780307887146
Published by Crown Publishers (Random House), New york, 2013
Condition: As New Hardcover
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About this Item

Although British and Swiss expeditions had reached the summit of Everest a decade before, the first successful American expedition to reach the summit (May 1963) attempted to reach the summit from two directions, including the never-before-scaled West Ridge. It is a harrowing and absorbing story, like all the great accounts of climbing the major peaks, and vividly told by Broughton Coburn, an author and editor with extensive environmental conservation experience in projects in the Himalaya. A UNREAD copy in AS NEW condition, first edition, first printing, with number line starting with "1." Add this one to your list of great mountaineering adventure stories. If you don't have a list, this one is a great place to start, because it lays out what putting together a team to produce a "first" entails. Bookseller Inventory # 140439

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Vast Unknown, The -- America's First Ascent ...

Publisher: Crown Publishers (Random House), New york

Publication Date: 2013

Binding: Hardcover

Illustrator: Color photos of some of the climbers and the challenges they faced

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


By the author of the New York Times bestselling Everest: Mountain Without Mercy, this chronicle of the iconic first American expedition to Mt. Everest in May 1963 – published to coincide with the climb's 50th anniversary­ – combines riveting adventure, a perceptive analysis of its dark and terrifying historical context, and revelations about a secret mission that followed. 
In the midst of the Cold War, against the backdrop of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the space race with the Soviet Union, and the quagmire of the Vietnam War, a band of iconoclastic, independent-minded American mountaineers set off for Mt. Everest, aiming to restore America's confidence and optimism.  Their objective is to reach the summit while conducting scientific research, but which route will they take?  Might the Chinese, in a public relations coup, have reached the top ahead of them?  And what about another American team, led by the grandson of a President, that nearly bagged the peak in a bootleg attempt a year earlier?
The Vast Unknown is, on one level, a harrowing, character-driven account of the climb itself and its legendary team of alternately inspiring, troubled, and tragic climbers who suffered injuries, a near mutiny, and death on the mountain.  It is also an examination of the profound sway the expedition had over the American consciousness and sense of identity during a time when the country was floundering.  And it is an investigation of the expedition's little-known outcome: the selection of a team to plant a CIA surveillance device on the Himalayan peak of Nanda Devi, to spy into China where Defense Intelligence learned that nuclear missile testing was underway.


Sample Photos from The Vast Unknown

President John F. Kennedy awarded the team members
and five Sherpas the National Geographic Hubbard Medal.
[Credit: Abby Rowe/National Park Service]

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The U.S. State Department sent five Sherpas on a
goodwill tour of America—partly to cultivate their
assistance with a clandestine, CIA-funded operation
in the Indian Himalaya, designed to spy into China.
[Credit: Jim Lester]

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In 2003, the survivors of the expedition gathered
at the Colorado home of expert climber and skier
Barry Corbet. [Credit: Muffy Moore]

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