A French mountaineering novel unusual in its physical frankness and satisfying as a tragi-comic adventure, written by the brother of Maurice Herzog (Annapurna). The south-southeast face of Mont Blanc, which has never been scaled and has caused four climbing deaths, is suddenly attacked by two rival teams at once, both using the same path. The code of mountaineering is that friendship must prevail over rivalry, so the two teams merge. But the mountain seems to be defeating them--and indeed claims four of the six lives of the combined teams. Among the climbers is Jackson, the greatest woman mountaineer ever, who has her inhibitions about bowel movements in space. She receives the erotic attention of all the men, but it is George, the local guide, who moves her most deeply. The climbers fail the top, and begin dying as they descend to the glacier below. But when the final two survivors see a third team appearing above them, about to claim the record, they take off in exhilarating pursuit and, using a new technique involving pendulum-swinging around overhangs, surpass all former efforts with a fantastic climbing display. Not deep but plenty active and bracing.