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Mountain Literature Classics: Conquistadors of the Useless by Lionel Terray

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This autobiography from one of the great postwar French alpinists is a bit like a high altitude expedition, says Ronald Turnbull - some rough going, some boring bits, and some surprising airy arêtes.

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 Doug 17 Nov 2022
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Suprised there's no mention of how good the translation is. Has Lachenal's Carnets du vertige been published in English ? Another point of view to many of the same events.

In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Very pleased to see this book highlighted, I read it as an impressionable newbie loaned out from the local library and it made a big impression. A nice counterpoint to the WH Murray my group was knee deep in at the time. Happy to see it republished (what would we do without the excellent Vertebrate Squadra?) and it worked second time around. Just the title alone is genius.

 Sean Kelly 17 Nov 2022
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

One of my favourites. Lots of interesting background, his time at the boarding school in Villar de Lans and other early influences, some of the friends he makes over his climbing life. There is a lot here besides the early ascents of major North Faces. And of course all told in a very different style to Rebuffat. It must have so good to be at the forefront of Alpine mountaineering in the 50's. For me, one of the all time classics!

In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

I really enjoyed the book, especially as it was more than just the climbing. I have given up on some books that seem to focus too much on the specifics of climbing each route they mention.

 GrahamD 17 Nov 2022
In reply to Sean Kelly:

> It must have so good to be at the forefront of Alpine mountaineering in the 50's. For me, one of the all time classics!

It's a long time since I read it, but my memory was of loads of freezing cold bivvies!

In reply to GrahamD:

It didn't stand up very well to a recent re-read I did, quite frankly, but it could simply be that, in old age, I have become somewhat tired of the whole genus of '(big) mountain literature'. 

1
In reply to Sean Kelly:

> And of course all told in a very different style to Rebuffat. It must have so good to be at the forefront of Alpine mountaineering in the 50's. For me, one of the all time classics!

Gaston Rébuffat was something else: his books having a unique beauty all of their own. His love and enthusiasm for mountaineering just seemed to explode out of the page – much helped by the great photography of Tairraz.


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