Magazine article Geographical

Prelude to Everest

Magazine article Geographical

Prelude to Everest

Article excerpt


by Ian R Mitchell and George W Rodway

Luath Press, hb, 20 [pounds sterling]


When Alexander Kellas died in 1921, he was the most experienced Himalayan mountaineer in the world. He was the first to consider seriously the effects of altitude on the human body, and the first true advocate of the Sherpa people as elite mountain guides.

By 1912, he had ascended five virgin Himalayan peaks of more than 6,000 metres and, without knowing it, broke the world summit altitude record in June 1911. Despite his remarkable athletic abilities and doggedness as a mountaineer, he was a solitary academic who published little and suffered from severe psychosis for much of his adult life. In a field crowded with neglected reputations this is a man and a story whose rediscovery is genuinely warranted.

Drawing on a handful of mountaineering club applications, youthful essays and academic papers, the authors of this outstanding book bring to life a mountaineer and physiologist who was decades ahead of his time in his thinking and, in the end, obsessed completely by the effects of altitude and the challenge of Everest. …

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