Trango: The Nameless Tower
by Jim Curran
Sheffield, England: Dark Peak, 1978. 175 pages, 42 pages of black-and-white photos; 16 colour plates
“Here is a climb that deserved a better book.
The climb was the first ascent in 1976 of the Nameless Tower in the Trango Towers of the Baltoro, arguably the "steepest of all Himalayan peaks." It involved 2500 feet of hard rock work on excellent granite at high altitudes (the summit is 20,500 feet). The party, a powerful one—Martin Boysen, Mo Anthoine, Malcolm Howells and Joe Brown— just did succeed in reaching the summit. Though the climb went relatively smoothly, there are at least two stories within it begging to be told well: Boysen's near-fatal epic on the attempt the year before when his knee got stuck in a jam crack, and Brown's triumph at 46 on the peak he had first fancied (on the way in to the Mustagh Tower) twenty years before.
Unfortunately, Jim Curran seems not to have been the best choice to write the book. As one of a two-man film crew, he occupied (in climbing terms) a peripheral role—far more subsidiary even than the other filmmaker, Tony Riley, who got within 200 feet of the top. Such a role could have been a virtue in disguise, had it lent balance and objectivity to the telling. But all too often Curran's own battles with load-hauling and jiimaring occupy the foreground of the narrative, eclipsing the far more important doings higher on the peak.”
David Roberts, “American Alpine Journal” 1979, p. 322-323
“The story of the second, and successful, assault on Trango Tower is told here by Jim Curran, not one of the 'ace' members of the climbing party, but one of the 2 climbing cameramen who accompanied them. It is therefore told by a support member, who is able to take a detached view of the proceedings, and also, as one relatively inexperienced in high-altitude climbing, convey to the average reader the miseries of movement and camp life at altitude. (…)
As a first production from Dark Peak, the book is well set out, with some excellent photographs, and suffers only from a number of spelling and proof-reading errors which, unfortunately, are becoming the norm these days in publications of every type.”
“Alpine Journal” 1980, p. 254-255
"As an expedition book, it is something entirely different. It is teeming with anecdotes and funny stories, as refreshing as a mountain stream in contrast to the usual treadmill of endeavour and heroics performed by supermen at high altitude. What is particularly enlightening is Curran's sometimes caustic appraisals of the big-name cast he accompanied - Brown, Boysen, Anthoine and Howells. He is not afraid of getting to grips with reputations. Of Joe Brown he writes: To spend any time in his company is a memorable experience, yet afterwards it is surprisingly hard to remember quite why. (…)
The only real complaint I could level at this very fine first effort is the number of literals, particularly in the second half of the story.”
Frank Wilkinson, „Crags” No. 16, p. 39-40