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An Innocent on Everest Ralph Izzard

An Innocent on Everest

Published March 1st 2007
ISBN : 9781406714913
Paperback
316 pages
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 About the Book 

AN INNOCENT ON EVEREST CHAPTER I THAT MOUNTAIN I AM no mountaineer, although I might modestly make a claim to be regarded as a mountain traveler my only excuse for opening this book in formal fashion with a brief account of what led up to the finalMoreAN INNOCENT ON EVEREST CHAPTER I THAT MOUNTAIN I AM no mountaineer, although I might modestly make a claim to be regarded as a mountain traveler my only excuse for opening this book in formal fashion with a brief account of what led up to the final ascent of Everest is that in studying the history of the mountain, a few points occur to me as a layman, which I feel may be of interest to laymen. The first questions which appeal to me as worth answering are when, why, and how did the climbers history of Everest begin According to the late Sir Francis Younghusband it all began at a meeting of the Royal Geographic Society, in London, in 1919. In 1852 the height of Peak XV had been computed by the Geographical Survey of India as 29,002 feet, making it the highest known mountain in the world, and it was promptly renamed Everest after Sir George Everest, a former Surveyor General. The officers of the survey were unaware at the time that the Tibetans already had a name for it Chomolungma, which can be translated as Mother Goddess of the Winds, Goddess mother of the world, and possibly more correctly as The Bird Country of the South. Now that the mountain has at last been climbed, agitation is afoot in the East to rename it Tenzing Peak while one Indian Newspaper, in an ecstasy that Sherpa Tenzing finally opted for, and adopted, Indian nationality, has ad vanced the slightly absurd and certainly anachronistic sug gestion that the mountain be known henceforth as Mount Government of India. We can be thankful that Sir George was blessed with a surname which has an appropriate touch of sublimity about it which is worth preserving. Had he borne any of a score of humdrum, undistinguished or evenequivocal names which all of us could think of, the rest of the world might have just cause for complaint. In the closing years of last century, and in the opening years of this, a number of adventurous men had harbored thoughts of climbing Everest, but few, for fear of being laughed at, had had the temerity to voice their thoughts. To the mountaineers of those days there were at least three factors which seemed to make the mountain for ever unattain able. Firstly magnitude. No man had ever presumed to pit his strength against such a sheer mass of rock, ice and snow before. Secondly altitude. It had long been thought that, owing to oxygen lack, a man might be expected to drop dead in his tracks at 20,000 feet. It is true that this figure was speedily disproved by a number of high altitude climbs culminating, in 1909, in a height of 24,600 feet being reached by the Duke of Abruzzis expedition when attacking K2 Mount Godwin Austen. But even after this success it was still felt that the utmost limit of human endurance could not be higher than 26,000 feet. Thirdly inaccessibility. Everest lies on the border of Nepal atnd Tibet and from time immemorial the authorities of both THAT MOUNTAIN 13 countries had followed a rigid policy of exclusion of West erners. In this respect the Nepalese had been even more adamant than the Tibetans. Prior to the Great War, Lord Curzon, when Viceroy of India, had attempted to obtain permission for a small party to visit Everest. His request had been promptly and firmly turned down. Following the 1914-1918 war a spirit of restlessness, not to say recklessness was abroad which was soon to culminate in the record-breaking craze of the twenties...