MOUNTAINS by John Cleare


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From crevices to couloirs, cwms to cornices; up perpendicular steepnesses or swinging in abseils from overhanging rock ledges; up ice faces of sheerest verticality, steaming terraces and gangways over stomach-churning headwall drops and knife-edged aretes, into the paradisal grand massifs below -- well, it's all here, and the reader soon surrenders to the poetry of exposure. Cleare writes about mountaineers (a mountain without a mountaineer is measureless) with the same egoistic enthusiasm Sir Thomas Malory brought to the Round Table. As superclimber Royal Robbins puts it: ""The thing about a solo climb is that it's all yours. . . . It's naked. Raw. . . like a big mirror. You are looking at yourself all the way up."" One picture of Robbins shows him on the sixth day of a climb up a sheer rock wall -- he's resting in a hammock on the face, 1600 feet above nothingness. This book covers all the major ranges from Yosemite to the Himalayas, their challenges and spectacular dangers, and the men who have matched them. Two climbs are recounted in detail, the author's televised ascent of Everest, and another on the Helm Glacier of Kilimanjaro in Africa. The exhilaration is very real -- shared by the heroic text and the splendid photographs of man at his most insignificant.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1975
Publisher: Crown