Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wade Davis

Wade Davis's latest book is Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest.

From his Q & A with Jeff Glor:

Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?

Wade Davis: My interest in this story began in the spring of 1996 as I completed a 4,000-mile overland journey from Chengdu in western China through southeastern Tibet to Lhasa and on to Kathmandu. Leading that ecological survey was a good friend, Daniel Taylor. Raised in the Himalaya, son and grandson of medical missionaries, Daniel had grown up with tales of George Mallory; his father was a close friend of Howard Somervell who climbed with Mallory on Everest in 1922 and 1924. The British climbers were Daniel's heroes and role models as a boy, intrepid men who had walked off the map for hundreds of miles just to find a mountain that no European had encountered at close quarters. Their Everest was the mountain of his imagining, not the disappointing commercial scene of today.

In late fall 1997, Daniel and I returned to Tibet, intent on photographing clouded leopards, among the most elusive of the great cats. Our journey took us from Kharta south into the Kama Chu along the same trails traveled by the British expeditions of the 1920s. Compared to the British expeditions, our month-long sojourn in the Kama Valley was a trivial undertaking. Nevertheless the extremes of altitude took a toll, as did the blizzards and cold. From our camp at Pethang Ringmo, at the base of the Kangshung Face, we stared up at a mountain that has killed one climber for every 10 that have reached the summit. It is a formidable sight. Though we were standing on ground higher than any in North America, the mountain rose two miles above, fluted ribs and ridges, gleaming balconies and seracs of blue-green ice, shimmering formations ready to collapse in an instant. The thought of those early British climbers, "dressed in tweeds" as Daniel put it, and "reading Shakespeare in the snow" as they confronted such hazards, filled me with admiration, curiosity and awe.

From the start I was less interested in...[read on]
See Wade Davis's list of six notable books about World War I.

--Marshal Zeringue