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The Shishapangma Expedition

By Doug Scott and Alex Maclntyre

The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1984. 332 pages, black and white photographs, maps, appendices, bibliography


“This is the account of the British expedition which succeeded in climbing Shishapangma (8012m) (or Gosainthan) in genuinely alpine style by its unexplored SW face at the end of May, 1982. The originator of the expedition, Nick Prescott, had never visited the Himalaya before, and wanted simply to do some mountaineering in Tibet. Permission to attempt the unclimbed face of an 8000m peak was the last thing he had hoped for. The result was that, while Prescott did much of the work which made the expedition possible and played a most unselfish supporting role when it got to the mountain, it turned into quite a different sort of expedition from the one he had intended. The leader, insofar as there was one, now became Doug Scott, and three of the five other members of the party were also climbers with outstanding records in the Himalaya and elsewhere. (…)
The bulk of the text is written by either Doug Scott or Alex Maclntyre (who, sadly, was killed by a falling stone on the S face of Annapurna later in the same year), but occasional short sections are contributed by the other members of the party. This interrupts the narrative's continuity much less than might have been expected. It is clearly the book's intention to give an honest account of the expedition and not to gloss over the quarrels and clashes of personality which occurred, and this is admirable; but both the clashes and the reconciliations which usually followed them tend to become rather tedious and to detract slightly from one's enjoyment of an otherwise very intriguing book.”
David Cox, “Alpine Journal” 1986, p. 243-244


“The late Alex Maclntyre and Doug Scott's account of their expedition to climb the 8012-meter Shishapangma by its unexplored southwest face is both fascinating and unusual—in large part because all six of the team members contribute to the narrative. As a result, the strengths, the weaknesses, the humor, the bickering and backbiting are all there. (…)
The Shishapangma story is more than a conventional account of an expedition. The interweaving of several voices throughout the text gives it the ring of truthfulness rare in this genre.”
Andy Tuthill, “American Alpine Journal” 1985, p. 363


“Anyone who has even a passing interest in expedition climbing, Tibet, high altitude psychology, how to play the Chinese at diplomatic cricket, the sayings of Doug, the life of the prophet Milarepa or in a variety of other entertainments from climbing history to histrionics will find this book compelling reading. It adapts a style of expedition writing which is often talked about but rarely used successfully, that is, to let everyone have their say. Scott and Maclntyre share the roje of principle writers, but the injection of commentary by other members - Roger Baxter-Jones, Elaine Brooks, Nick Prescott and Paul Braithwaite - not only adds new insight on the events, at times it introduces a diametrically opposed point of view that may catch our sympathies off guard. (…)
The one major citicism that can be made is directed solely at the publishers. The photographs, although representative, are all black and white, and the quality of reproduction is poor. Better reproduction of what are obviously good photos, and a few colour photos of the same quality and subtlety as the one on the dust jacket would make the book much more attractive.”
John Porter, “Mountain” 1985, January/February, No . 101, p. 46


“Written mainly by the late Alex Maclntyre, this expedition story is one of the most complete accounts of how tenuous and traumatic our sport can be at its upper limits. It also happens to be a beautifully crafted tale. Maclntyre's earlier work in Mountain and other journals gave promise to the clarity and style that consistently sculpt this book. (…)
The contributions of the other team members, primarily Scott, give this work a richness of texture and completeness that has rarely been achieved. Reading it, I laughed with the climbers, cried with them, was angry and frustrated, elated and even let down. The Shishapangma Expedition is a classic in its own right.”
Stuart Pregnall,”Climbing” 1985, No 90, p. 64-65

 

 

 
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