That Untravelled World: An Autobiography (Legends and Lore)
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• One of the greatest explorers of the 20th century
• Shipton’s Everest explorations set the stage for its conquest by Edmund Hillary
Eric Shipton was an adventurer when adventure meant traveling to places for which no maps existed, scaling mountains whose heights were uncalculated, and encountering people whom no westerner had ever met. That Untravelled World, originally published in 1969, is his autobiography, written near the end of his career, when the passing of time had deepened his reflections on his many accomplishments and companions.
Shipton’s story begins with his early childhood, his first climbs in the Alps, his decision to be a coffee farmer rather than attend university, and his early climbs in Africa. He recounts his introduction to Bill Tilman, through a letter Tilman sent asking for advice about climbing Mount Kenya. This introduction lead to one of the most famous climbing partnerships in history—as bonded in pursuit of adventure as Holmes and Moriarty were in solving crimes.
In 1951 Shipton led an expedition to explore the south side of Everest. His small party of four (plus Sherpas) explored Everest’s Western Cwm to determine if the South Col could be climbed from there. In 1952, unable to get a permit to climb Everest, Shipton and his team climbed “eleven mountains between 21,000 and 23,000 feet, and a number of smaller peaks.” Shipton was expected to be named the leader of the momentous 1953 British Everest expedition but, surprisingly, John Hunt was chosen instead. Of the slight, Shipton wrote, “I had often deplored the exaggerated publicity accorded to Everest expeditions and the consequent distortion of values. Yet, when it came to the point, I was far from pleased to withdraw from this despised limelight; nor could I fool myself that it was only the manner of my rejection that I minded.”
So disappointed was Shipton in being overlooked to lead the Everest summit expedition that he left Britain for South America. He never again returned to the Himalaya yet, as this book reveals, his adventures were far from over.
Paoshan Parker, Tom Parry Fjord Pasang Bhotia Patagonia Peaker, Gilbert Peking Pelvoux, Mont P’eng, Mr. Perón, President Persia Phari Philby, Kim Phung Chu Piggot, Point Pile, Frank Puerto Eden Pumori Punta Arenas Punta Espinosa Pyrenees Pyt House Quito Rafaqatullah Khan Raikana Glacier Ranikhet Ransom, Bob and Vera Raza Ali Reichert, Dr. Rey, Emil Rhamini Nullah Richard, Elie Riddiford, Earle Rift Valley Rinzing Rishi Ganga Rolwaling Rongbuk Rongbuk Glacier,
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only by numbers in triangulation pamphlets, and there were thousands more unmeasured. The second phase of Himalayan mountaineering began with the Everest Expeditions of the 1920s, which made the first thrusts into the unknown realms of extreme altitude. Conducted on a grand scale and quasi-military lines, they set a new fashion in mountaineering enterprise, and focused attention upon the “conquest” of the highest peaks. This led to a popular misconception of the problems and difficulties of
success. In 1936 and 1938 no oxygen equipment yet devised would have given us the strength and endurance to overcome the massive accumulation of powder snow covering those treacherous upper slabs. To my mind the 1933 expedition, like its predecessors in 1922 and 1924, was far too large and grossly overburdened. The current belief that a vast and complex organisation was needed to carry a party of climbers to the Base and to establish the lower camps originated, no doubt, in military thinking;
needed, for, perhaps because of the width of our field of operations which meant that the party could be frequently split into small units, each with its separate objective, there was remarkably little friction—so often caused by people treading on each other’s toes. In any case, the presence of Dan Bryant would have made dissension difficult to sustain, for any ostentation or humbug became the target of his gentle mockery, which discouraged any of us from taking himself or his grievances too