For readers of the mountain-climbing fraternity- and circumstances have proved their number to be large- this will be classed as only secondarily a mountain climbing book, for Izzard, while compassing a difficult ascent reached what he calls ""the foot of Everest"" and then turned back to sit it out at Katmandu. But other readers who demand less of the mountain aspects and more of straight travelogue, will enjoy the greater part of the Izzard book, the best picture of Nepal contained in any current story. Izzard was commissioned by his paper, the London Daily Mail, to try to ""crash the gates"" of the Everest Expedition, a right reserved traditionally, and strictly observed, by Hunt and the members. So Izzard built his own very amateurish, in adequately equipped, staffed and prepared, small expedition, and managed to tail the actual expedition over some pretty grim stretches, including the famous bridge at Charicot (those who have seen the superb film will remember this). That he reached the Sherpa capital, Namche, in four days, without map, with a scratch lot of coolies, and that he was able to organize the next advance, is little short of a miracle. But his story remains memorable chiefly for the superb analysis of Nepal, an independent kingdom virtually unexplored by Europeans, and that he shares with his readers his findings and impressions of Everest expeditions, past and present, and the personnel involved in the successful conquest. He writes too of odd bits- the ""abominable snowman"", fact and rumor, the whys and hows of the conquest, and so on.