HILLARY’S FIRST BOOK, WHICH RECOUNTS HIS CONQUEST OF EVEREST
WITH ‘A WEALTH OF UNSUSPECTED DETAIL, AND A TRIBUTE TO TENZING’

HILLARY, Sir Edmund Percival. High Adventure. London: Hazell Watson and Viney Ltd for Hodder & Stoughton, 1955.

Octavo (203 x 138mm), pp. 224, [2 (photographic credits, verso blank)]. Colour-printed photographic frontispiece and 16 monochrome plates with photographic illustrations recto-and-verso after Hillary, Tenzing Norgay, et. al. Illustrations after George Djurkouic and maps after A. Spark in the text, some full-page. (A few very light, marginal marks.) Original blue boards, spine lettered and ruled in gilt, dustwrapper, not price-clipped. (Spine slightly leant and minimally faded at ends, edges very slightly bumped, very light offsetting on free endpapers, dustwrapper slightly marked, slightly creased at edges and with short tears.) A very good, internally-clean copy. 

First edition. The autobiographical High Adventure was Hillary’s first book and was published shortly after his successful ascent of Everest in 1953. The first chapter is dedicated to the author’s early life and first experiences of mountaineering, and the remaining chapters describe his participation in Eric Shipton’s 1951 Everest Reconnaissance Expedition and the reconnaissance of Cho Oyu in 1952; the Swiss Everest expedition of 1952; and the successful 1953 expedition (chapters seven to twelve). 

The Geographical Journal’s reviewer wrote that ‘Hillary goes at a fair speed, almost as fast as his climbing pace, through the first stages of the 1953 journey; lingering, however, at the icefall, which was in a sense a personal triumph. The speed of the narrative has the disadvantage that there is little room for pen-portraits of people or for scenic reflections, but the corresponding advantage, as we go higher, that he is able to give in increasing measure what the reader most wants from this book, the thoughts and actions and sensations of Edmund Hillary on and near the top of that mountain. The story works to its climax, certainly to its most absorbing chapter. I had thought that it would be impossible to improve on his account in “The Ascent [of Everest]”; but there is here a wealth of unsuspected detail, and a tribute to Tenzing, which must make the Great Day sparkle in imagination with new colours’ (vol. 121 (1955), p. 521). 

Neate H81; Perret 2257 (‘[u]n excellent ouvrage’).

£49.50

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