HUNT, (Henry Cecil) John, Baron HUNT. The Ascent of Everest. London: Hazell, Watson and Viney Ltd for Hodder and Stoughton, 1953. 

Octavo (220 x 143mm), pp. xx, 300. Colour-printed photographic frontispiece, 7 colour-printed photographic plates, 5 with printed captions on versos, and 24 half-tone plates with 70 photographic illustrations recto-and-verso. 3 full-page maps, one full-page view of the mountain with ascent route, and illustrations and diagrams in the text. (Occasional light spotting, small marginal damp-mark on front free endpaper, half-title, and verso of frontispiece, offsetting (apparently from inserted newspaper clipping) on pp. [124]-125.) Original blue cloth, spine lettered in gilt, top edges blue, dustwrapper with design after W. Heaton Cooper, not price-clipped. (Light offsetting on endpapers, extremities very lightly rubbed, dustwrapper faded on spine and with a few small marks, edges slightly creased and with small chips and tears). A very good copy.

First edition. ‘The story of success after 32 years and 12 expeditions. 1953 was the year of the British. They knew this would be their last chance for the mountain […]. The British picked as leader Colonel John Hunt, the Himalayan veteran who was a military officer and an expert in logistics. The expedition included some of the finest climbers in Great Britain, as well as George Lowe and Edmund Hillary from New Zealand, and Tenzing Norgay’ (Classics in the Literature of Mountaineering). Hunt’s detailed account of the ascent of Everest includes ‘The Summit’ (chapter 16) by Edmund Hillary, a narrative of the final assault on the mountain, and it is richly illustrated with portraits of the team and photos taken en route: ‘[t]he [frontispiece] photograph of Tenzing standing on the summit, the flags streaming from his ice axe, has become famous, and the exploits of Hillary and Tenzing legendary, entering a lore and mythology of mountaineering. The ultimate mountaineering goal, the summit of the world, had been achieved’ (loc. cit.). 

Scientific and medical preparations – especially the open-circuit oxygen equipment – were essential to the expedition’s success, and the appendices include T.D. Bourdillon’s illustrated essay on the oxygen equipment, Griffith Pugh and Michael Ward’s essay on physiology and medicine, and Griffith Pugh and George Band’s contribution on the carefully-calculated diet for the mountaineers.

Loosely inserted in this copy is the front page of The Bulletin and Scots Pictorial for 2 June 1953 (428 x 338mm), headed ‘Coronation Special’ and with the headline ‘Everest Conquered: A British Triumph for this Coronation Morning’ (folded, short tears on folds, ragged edge at gutter where removed from newspaper).

Classics in the Literature of Mountaineering 39; Neate H135; NLS, Mountaineering, a703; Perret 2304; Yakushi H470a.


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