RED PEAK by Malcolm Slesser


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Even though there is an embarrassment of riches among mountaineering books in YA collections, this one is recommended for its wit. The author was deputy eader of the 1962 British-Soviet Expedition to the top of 25,000 foot Pik Kommunizama, he U.S.S.R.'s highest peak. The dangers of the climb share equal attention with British-Soviet interpersonal tensions and Slesser allows the character of each mountaineer to emerge in the telling. Two English climbers were killed in crucial stages of the ascent and at this point some members turned back while others continued. (The Russians, by the way, had supplied themselves haphazardly with crystallized fruit, aviar and beouf stroganoff as rations!) When the combined party has reached the top, an Englishman breaks out a cigarette and an admiring Russian says, ""How is it, Mac, that you can climb so well when you are so decadent?"" The author attempt to be fair to the Russians, but also has some understated fund at their expense.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1964
Publisher: Coward-McCann