Front cover image for Hold the heights : the foundations of mountaineering

Hold the heights : the foundations of mountaineering

"Originally men feared the mountains as the home of gods or dragons. The notion of climbing mountains for pure pleasure was slow to take hold, despite the intrepid ascent of Mont Aiguille by a fifteenth-century French courtier. For all its cloak of scientific respectability, the race for Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in western Europe, held all the seeds of later mountaineering controversy - sponsorship, competition, mixed motives, chauvinism, accusations of bad faith, and unresolved recrimination. But it was a beginning. By the middle of the next century all the great Alpine summits had been climbed and, on the Matterhorn in 1865, climbing had suffered its first sensational disaster. Queen Victoria wondered if she should put a stop to it. Fortunately, she was counselled otherwise." "In Hold the Heights, Walt Unsworth presents a comprehensive history of world mountaineering, from the first recorded ascent to the conquests of Everest and Nanga Parbat in 1953 - milestone ascents that ushered in new eras of exploration. Beginning with a major reassessment of the late-Victorian Alpine Club worthies, Unsworth then traces how the initiative passed from the British pioneers to European climbers, as elegance of route and rock-climbing skill came to the fore and mountaineering shifted from stamina to athleticism. He examines the emergence of technical climbing from the Dolomites, the influence of the Munich School through the thirties, the assaults on the great north faces by climbers whose brilliance was rewarded with medals from Hitler."
Print Book, English, 1994
The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1994