SIGNED BY AMERICAN MOUNTAINEERS ROBERT BATES, CHARLES HOUSTON, AND WILLIAM HOUSE
BATES, Robert H., HOUSTON, Charles S., HOUSE, William P., et al. Five Miles High. The Story of an Attack on the Second Highest Mountain in the World by the Members of the First American Karakoram Expedition. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1939. Octavo, original red cloth, cartographic endpapers. $1200.
First edition of this history of the First American Karakoram Expedition, with illustrations after photographs captured by members of the Expedition, signed on the title page by climbers Robert H. Bates, Charles S. Houston, and William P. House.
An exciting account of the 1938 First American Karakoram Expedition to the summit of K2. Generally considered a tougher climb than Everest, K2 inspired trepidation in even the most experienced mountaineers. According to NASA, K2 has a fatality rate of 29% due to its treacherous topography, unpredictable weather, and low levels of oxygen at critical points in the climb. Fewer than 400 people have ever successfully summited K2. Thus, the 1938 Expedition faced almost unsurmountable odds, particularly in light of the relatively primitive gear available to them at the time. The Expedition took four months, much of it spent in inhospitable conditions without any access to the outside world. In the end, the Expedition was considered a success, although the climbers were forced to quit short of the summit when food and fuel shortages hobbled them. Two of the climbers, Houston and Petzoldt were sent ahead to reach the highest possible altitude. They reached a spot roughly 2200 feet short of the summit, identifying place for a future expedition to put a tent that would allow them to reach the summit. With no Expedition members hurt or killed and top-notch reconnaissance conducted to help future climbers, the 1938 First American Expedition is still considered one of the greatest triumphs of early mountaineering. Without dust jacket.
Interior generally fine, a few tiny stains to cloth, toning to spine. An extremely good signed copy.