A wonderful first hand account of the first ascent of Everest in 1953, when Jan Morris (then James) accompanied Sir John Hunt’s team of mountaineers drawn from across the Empire as The Times’ official correspondent.
Part of what makes this a fascinating period of history is that, as John Keay concludes, none of these explorations would feasible today given the borders and accompanying tensions between India, Pakistan and China. I’d love to be able to trek from Leh to Yarkand…..
If you can ignore the very bloke-ish blurb on the covers and the fact that Fergus Fleming is Ian Fleming’s nephew, this is a thorough set of biographical snippets on an Arctic, Antarctic and Saharan explorer theme. After all, what is a desert but a hot dry version of the icebound wastes at the poles.
I still delight in the fact that one of the earlier and most astute explorers was William Scoresby. For a long time I’d assumed Philip Pullman had made up the name Lee Scoresby. Perhaps he did – although I doubt it – but I like the idea that aëronaut explorer Lee and and arctic explorer William share a surname and a sense of decency.
Back to the book – worth a read if you’re interested in 19th Century English Explorers.