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Mountain Men

An irresistible account of the pioneers of mountaineering "as colorful and eye-opening as the characters involved." Guardian. }Imagine a world without IMAX or Gore-tex, before North Face, a world without mobile phones or high-altitude Internet links, super-light hiking boots and polyamide fleece. Imagine a time when the Alps were as remote as the Himalayas and the Himalayas as remote as the moon. Traversing a century of climbing that began with the Victorian enthusiasts and ended with the conquest of the great Himalayan peaks, Mick Conefrey and Tim Jordan take us back to that (not-so-distant) world to tell the stories of the extraordinary men who were the first to climb the world's best-known mountains---the Matterhorn, McKinley, Everest, and K2. Their quests provide welcome historical context and very modern thrills for readers of adventure narratives. Accompanied by unique archival materials, detailed maps, and photographs, Mountain Men invites us to follow in the footsteps of these fearless explorers, and tells us the stories with all their romance and stupidity, bravado and suffering, courage and miscalculation, intact. Meet the Mountain Men: *Albert Smith was an impresario who climbed Mont Blanc with the help of 16 guides, 18 porters, and 90 bottles of spirits; his Piccadilly shows turned mountaineering from a folly into a sport. *Edward Whymper, perhaps the greatest of the Victorian climbers, was the first to summit the Matterhorn, but not an hour later he lost four members of his party in a horrible accident that would shadow him for the rest of his life. *The Duke of Abruzzi, heir to the Italian throne, reached the intimidating slopes of K2 in 1909 but concluded that no one could climb it in his lifetimehe was right. *Mount McKinley was claimed by not one but several climbers, including America's great explorer--and, it turned out, fraudsterDr. Frederick Cook, who had his porters take pictures of him on a look-alike crevasse many miles away from the actual mountain. *The eccentric Maurice Wilson, convinced that he enjoyed God's protection, decided to climb Everest alonejust as soon as he taught himself to fly and got himself smuggled into Nepal. He got further than anyone could have dreamed, but his body was discovered frozen a hundred feet from a food cache left by an earlier party.. }
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