Scholar, poet, mountaineer in the great tradition (Noyce was one of the successful Everest Expedition, and the author of my favorite book on that exploit, South Col) has now written a novel, deeply rooted in his intimate knowledge of the psychological as well as the physical factors involved. It is first and last a stirring and holding story for the specialist- and this includes the armchair mountaineers. For it is all there:- the challenge the mountains afford; the compulsion that makes men put aside the things that most people feel matter most- home, family, job; the choice of the team for tackling the sacred mountain, Changma, in the Himalayas; the preparation -- in detail, in emotional setting; the preliminaries to the climb itself, with a new factor added- the young women who went part way with the expedition, and changed the thinking of some of the members. And finally, the climb itself, the tensions sharpened by clash of personalities, and the differing goals that the men held. There is plenty of action here- and over all the brooding fears and superstitions of the natives, who knew ""the gods are angry"". There is the moment when permission is recalled- and the head of the expedition is torn between hoping his advance team has scaled the summit- and fear that they have. And always there is the breath taking beauty often counterbalanced by the horrors, the dangers, the unremitting discomforts of the climb. The gods take their toll -- but the summit has been reached, and the reader is left to fill in much of the detail of the ultimate cost, the ultimate triumph for successive members of the expedition.... For the mountain fraternity, this is a more fully realized and authentic mountaineering novel than Ullman's The White Tower. For the layman, who seeks resolution of character and plot ahead of background, it lacks rounded attainment as an adventure novel). No reader will lay it down unmoved.