|This week we’ve twinned classic books from acclaimed adventure publisher Bâton Wicks with top SteepEdge films. Watch the expedition footage, read poetry inspired by the first ascent and get the secret beta. Here are five definitive climbing titles and their on-screen companions.|
The events that took place on K2 in 1986 have gone down in the annals of mountaineering history. Jim Curran’s K2 Triumph and Tragedy was created from footage he recorded as he attempted follow the British expedition to the North-west Ridge. A severely frost-bitten Kurt Diemberger survived the indescribable conditions of that summer, and his story is related in The Endless Knot, included in his candid three-part autobiography.
Edwin Drummond was the first ascentionist of St John’s Head, a wild and remote 1,150 foot sea cliff. In his collection of essays and poems A Dream of White Horses, he narrates the climb as the haunted and claustrophobic vision of an anthropomorphic gull, who watches ‘Ed’ and his companion battle with the sea. In The Long Hope Ed, now in his late sixties, revisits St John’s Head to encourage a challenging free ascent by Dave Macleod.
Heckmair’s 1938 ascent of the North Face of the Eiger was considered one of the finest moments of alpinisim and was duly appropriated by the Nazis, who named Heckmair a hero of the German Reich, much to his discomfort. Also a favourite of Hitler, though perhaps with less complaint was filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, who found fame in the success of her fashionable, fantasy style mountain film, or ‘Bergefilm’, ‘Das Blaue Licht’. Riefenstahl starred as ‘Junta’, a young lady with a mysterious talent for climbing, neatly fulfilling the Teutonic ideal of the courageous, action-oriented woman.The relationship between these two climbers, with disturbingly opposing politics, is revealed in Heckmair’s autobiography, and Ray Muller’s biopic.
Everest the Hard Way, the classic expedition documentary of the 1975 British Expedition up the South-west Face of the world’s highest mountain, describes the historic summit bid made by Doug Scott and Dougal Haston. Their ascent sparked a revolution, as climbers began to adopt a rapid ‘Alpine’ style of ascent. In his typically understated style, Scott relates his memories of this and other expeditions throughout his career in the beautifully illustrated Himalayan Climber.
Finding the best boulder problems in the mystical forest of Fontainbleau can be a complex business. In the beautifully-filmed Out of Sight, Neil Hart follows a group of the world’s best climbers as they explore hidden boulders in rarely stumbled-upon parts of the forest. The maps and boulder layouts in the guidebook Fontainbleau Bouldering Off-Piste, together with the crucial local knowledge and advice of Jack Godoffe, who features in Hart’s film, are an indispensable aid to unveiling the forest’s secret treasures.
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