5 DECEMBER 1952, Page 38

Emotion on the Heights

Annapurna. By Maurice Herzog. Translated from the Frencll bY Nea Morin and Janet Adam Smith. With an introduction hY Eric Shipton. (Cape. 15s.) IT is in every way a most remarkable story that Maurice Hazel dictated from his hospital bed. He and his seven companions fro Chamonix, with no previous Himalayan experience, set out in 199 to find two 8,000 metre peaks, choose one of them, reconnoitre /13 approaches and climb to its summit, all in one short season ix fort the monsoon. They had the honour of France to inspire them and some superbly tough Sherpas to help them. *That they reached theit goal is a tremendous tribute to their matchless skill and unconquerable spirit ; that they returned without loss of life is little short of a miracle' And now the stgry has been translated into English, and I find that wish very much that it had been written by Louis Lachenal, wh° reached the summit with his leader, rather than by the leader hin self' For Herzog gets' into an alarming state of emotional exaltation, unli10 anything I have ever met. The two translators, by an incredible feat of combined tactics, have not only retained this unfamiliar atmosf ofreligious ecstasy, but have made these Frenchmen talk the collo, and technical jargon which is the common currency of any week-end party at Pen y Gwryd.

After rapid reconnaissances on its east face, Dhaulegiri WLi i.bandoned as virtually impossible. One important discovery naively recorded. "It's all far bigger than we supposed. ClearlY this demanded something beyond Alpine technique." There followed a search for the Tilicho Pass and for Annapurna, both wrong marked on the map. Two passes were found north of" the Great Barrier," but Annapurna was south of it. So the party raced bade, and round by the Miristi Khola to the North Annapurna Gh cier' From a base camp under the Barrier they reconnoitred a possible route via the Sickle Glacier to the top. Two excellent photographs one of which is enlarged and coloured to form a striking double page, enable the reader to follow them. With incredible speed the reconnals,' sance became an assault. Consummate craftsmanship and derr onlc energy led them by two vertical ice-walls and a sensational traverse to their Fourth Camp on the " handle " of the Sickle. Fir alb', on June 3rd, Herzog and Lachenal, both suffering incipient frost bite' set out to race up the last 2,000 feet. Foul weather threatened and Lachenal would have turned back. But he could not desert his ecstatic leader, who says of the summit," Never had I felt happiness, like this, so intense and yet so pure." "What about going down ? asked the tactless Lachenal, to the shocked surprise of his leader' In storm and darkness a gloveless Herzog staggered into Camp ; Lachenal was just rescued from the slopes below the camp. Botb were hopelessly crippled. Lost, they spent the next night in a crevasse, to be rescued just in time by Schatz, the real hero of the descent' It was he who organised Sherpas, tended the cripples, and, in spite of avalanche and hysteria, got the party down to Camp II. His and sound corhmon sense saved them all. For the rest of the agot ising retreat, through monsoon and swamps and forests, the doctor akes charge ; it is a grim story of sepsis and surgical scissors.

Nothing quite like this has ever been done before. It is a uMatl.e record of youthful determination pushed far beyond the normal WI of human endurance. But when amazement and admiration NO ' had time to cool, one is tempted to echo Herzog's own ow tiorl' " Did Annapurna justify such risks ? " It was the highest suirond yet reacheelay man, but camps had already been made at hig10 altitudes on Everest. Annapurna does not, like Nanda Devi ()C ICangchenjunga, challenge the climber by its bold aggressiveness' Its only claim is to be " one of the 8,000-ers." And for manY mountaineers there remains the most insistent question of all. Wliero will it end, this dedication of oneself to the conquest of a mountal this turning of a sport into a religion ? Emotionalism of this sort seems to despise reason and to lose all sense of humour. loner aree le danger n'est pas ?exposer an danger. So wrote the great Jacques de Lkpiney, forerunner of these Chamonix enthusiasts. His followers think differently. JOHN HILLS.