While on top of Everest, I looked across the valley towards the great peak Makalu and mentally worked out a route about how it could be climbed. It showed me that even though I was standing on top of the world, it wasn’t the end of everything. I was still looking beyond to other interesting challenges… Edmund Hillary


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Fallen giants : a history of Himalayan Mountaineering from the age of empire to the age of extremes  Maurice Isserman and Stewart Weaver ; with maps and peak sketches by Dee Molenaar  New Haven : Yale University Press, c 2008  Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing. xii, 579 p. : ill. ; 26 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [539]-564) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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The first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa teammate Tenzing Norgay is a familiar saga, but less well known are the tales of many other adventurers who also came to test their skills and courage against the world’s highest and most dangerous mountains.

NPG Ax13024; George Leigh Mallory by Unknown photographer

In this book, historians Isserman and Weaver present the first comprehensive history of Himalayan mountaineering in fifty years. They offer detailed, original accounts of the most significant climbs since the 1890s, and they compellingly evoke the social and cultural worlds that gave rise to those expeditions.

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The book recounts the adventures of such figures as Martin Conway, who led the first authentic Himalayan climbing expedition in 1892; Fanny Bullock Workman, the pioneer explorer of the Karakoram range; George Mallory, the romantic martyr of Mount Everest fame; Charlie Houston, who led American expeditions to K2 in the 1930s and 1950s; Ang Tharkay, the legendary Sherpa, and many others.

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Throughout, the authors discuss the effects of political and social change on the world of mountaineering, and they offer a penetrating analysis of a culture that once emphasized teamwork and fellowship among climbers, but now has been eclipsed by a scramble for individual fame and glory.

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