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Frank Smythe's mountaineering achievements in the decade before the Second World War became a part of climbing history. His intensive Alpine climbing, followed by two Himalayan expeditions - to Kangchenjunga in 1930 and success the following year on Kamet, the highest summit then reached - became the prelude to Everest. And in 1933 on that great mountain, climbing alone and without supplementary oxygen he got to within 820 feet of the top, a record height before efforts were resumed post-war and Everest was climbed in 1953. And as a superb Himalayan finale, in 1937 he returned to the Indian Garhwal to climb difficult peaks up to 24,000 feet in a rapid lightweight style. The expeditions were central to his lifetime's work as a writer and photographer - 27 books and albums, together with numberless newspaper and magazine articles, intensive lecturing, radio broadcasts and a film. It was an output that made him a celebrity, a rare feat in the days before television and the internet. He had tens of thousands of readers and his name was familiar to perhaps millions of the general public. It was an incredible career, especially since he died at the early age of 48 after a serious illness in India. Frank Smythe was resolute in keeping his home life private, and few details of it emerged in his writings. It was a turbulent life, even from earliest childhood, and remained so, with ambition and impatience almost overwhelming him at times, and eventually this volatile mix, apart from alienating some more traditional members of the Alpine Club, would lead to the break-up of his marriage. Yet when he was among hills he became tranquil and inspired. Some fifty years after his death in 1949 one of his three sons, Tony, decided to write a full account of his father's life, an extraordinary story he believed was important historically and well worth telling. This book is the result.
Baton Wicks Publications
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