THE ASCENT OF EVEREST, SIGNED BY SIR EDMUND HILLARY AND FELLOW "EVERESTERS" GEORGE BAND AND GEORGE LOWE
(HILLARY, Edmund, et al.) HUNT, John. The Ascent of Everest. WITH: Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Sir Edmund Hillary. (London): Hodder and Stoughton, (1953). (London: Barnard and Westwood), Wednesday, 2nd April, 2008. Together, two volumes. Octavo, original blue cloth, original dust jacket. Folio (8-1/2 by 11-1/2 inches), original printed card wrappers, pp. 12. $4500.
First edition, with eight color photographic plates, 48 half-tone plates and a number of in-text illustrations after pen-and-ink sketches, signed on the front free endpaper by Sir Edmund Hillary and fellow Everest climbers George Band and George Lowe. Together with the printed program for Edmund Hillary's 2008 memorial service held at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, additionally signed on the front cover by Everesters George Lowe, George Band, Mike Westmacott and Alfred Gregory—the last surviving members of the famed 1953 expedition at the time.
The 1953 British Expedition to Mount Everest was the eighth in 30 years to attempt Everest. On May 29th, 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay at last stood at the summit; it was a culminating moment in mountaineering history, and one of the great achievements of human stamina and will. The Ascent of Everest was written in one month by Sir John Hunt, the leader of the expedition, in order to satisfy the immediate demand around the world for the story of the British team's success. Chapter 16 is Sir Edmund Hillary's stirring account of the final part of the climb, and the appendices are by members of the expedition.
At 23, George Christopher Band (he has signed this copy "GC Band") was the youngest climber on the expedition. New Zealand-born climber George Lowe was the last surviving member of the expedition. Alfred Gregory, who has signed the memorial program, was in charge of the stills photography on the expedition, and Michael Westmacott, who has also signed the program, was a prominent British mountaineer. At the time of Hillary's memorial service in 2008, Lowe, Band, Gregory and Westmacott were the last surviving members of that famed 1953 expedition. Book with owner ink signature, dated Christmas of the year of publication, on the front free endpaper with the three mountaineers' signatures. Program with label of George and Mary Lowe's foundation The Himalayan Trust, founded by Hillary in the 1960s to improve the health, education and general well-being of people living in the Solukhumbu District. Presumably this copy was originally signed and sold to raise money for that cause.
Program with faint smudge to front wrapper, about-fine. Book and dust jacket near-fine, with slightly toned spine and light edge-wear to jacket. A desirable multiply signed copy, with scarce memorial service program.