Read Tigers of the Snow: How One Fateful Climb Made The Sherpas Mountaineering Legends by Jonathan Neale Online


The true story of the tragedy and survival on one of the world's most dangerous mountains.In 1922 Himalayan climbers were British gentlemen, and their Sherpa and Tibetan porters were "coolies," unskilled and inexperienced casual laborers. By 1953 Sherpa Tenzing Norgay stood on the summit of Everest, and the coolies had become the "Tigers of the Snow."Jonathan Neale's absorThe true story of the tragedy and survival on one of the world's most dangerous mountains.In 1922 Himalayan climbers were British gentlemen, and their Sherpa and Tibetan porters were "coolies," unskilled and inexperienced casual laborers. By 1953 Sherpa Tenzing Norgay stood on the summit of Everest, and the coolies had become the "Tigers of the Snow."Jonathan Neale's absorbing new book is both a compelling history of the oft-forgotten heroes of mountaineering and a gripping account of the expedition that transformed the Sherpas into climbing legends. In 1934 a German-led team set off to climb the Himalayan peak of Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain on earth. After a disastrous assault in 1895, no attempt had been made to conquer the mountain for thirty-nine years. The new Nazi government was determined to prove German physical superiority to the rest of the world. A heavily funded expedition was under pressure to deliver results. Like all climbers of the time, they did not really understand what altitude did to the human body. When a hurricane hit the leading party just short of the summit, the strongest German climbers headed down and left the weaker Germans and the Sherpas to die on the ridge. What happened in the next few days of death and fear changed forever how the Sherpa climbers thought of themselves. From that point on, they knew they were the decent and responsible people of the mountain.Jonathan Neale interviewed many old Sherpa men and women, including Ang Tsering, the last man off Nanga Parbat alive in 1934. Impeccably researched and superbly written, Tigers of the Snow is the compelling narrative of a climb gone wrong, set against the mountaineering history of the early twentieth century, the haunting background of German politics in the 1930s, and the hardship and passion of life in the Sherpa valleys....

Title : Tigers of the Snow: How One Fateful Climb Made The Sherpas Mountaineering Legends
Author :
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ISBN : 9780312266233
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Tigers of the Snow: How One Fateful Climb Made The Sherpas Mountaineering Legends Reviews

  • Lobsang
    2019-06-02 02:49

    Raghu's review below summarizes the book's contribution really well. I only want to vote on the side of Neale's fairness and care in writing this history. We need the perspective of Sherpa guides to have a balanced understanding of Himalayan climbing, and if it often doesn't look good for the Sahibs, then that's a reality we have to assimilate. Neale has taken the time to learn Sherpa language, to distinguish between Nepalese Sherpa and Tibetan culture, and to conduct interviews with climbers and families. It's a respectful book, and it calls on the reader possibly to reevaluate a cherished self-image of climbing. And it could be read more personally, too: in his opening gambit Neale reflects on the impression of Sherpa men on his own developing masculinity as a teenager. He contrasts his Texas football coaches to the gentle manner of much braver, more accomplished Sherpa climbers. Nicely told!

  • Paul Hartzog
    2019-06-05 02:08

    Excellent. This book is about more than it appears.It covers class and race attitudes in the 20th Century towards the mountaineering porters used by Western civilization in the Himalayas. In particular, it traces the story of the creation of Sherpas as a people and their identity and self-image. In the beginning porters were treated as beasts of burden at worst and children at best, along with all of the colonial paternalism that goes along with that. The book shows how the Sherpas willingness to take risks, rescue others, and take charge in the worst of conditions, transformed Western civilization's view of them, as well as their view of themselves.The book is meticulously researched, and because of that there are several never-before-revealed accounts of legendary mountaineering events, in the Sherpas' stories instead of from the books published in the West to date.

  • Nitin Jagtap
    2019-05-24 02:47

    Anybody interested in the history of mountaineering in the Himalayas should read this book, the author Jonathan Neale has done lot of ground research, conducted interviews with former climbers mostly from Europe and off course last but not the least the Sherpas. The book is written to present to the readers an unbiased account of what happened in the early years of climbing the various peaks in the Himalayan range between the 1920s and 50s. There is enough literature which have written about the experiences of the climbers from Europe and America but nothing has been written from the perspective of the Sherpas who are the most important people in any expedition. The book attempts to give the Sherpas also called as the “Tigers of the Snow”their due share of credit which has mostly been eluding them for a long time.The early part of the 1920s saw many expeditions led by various European nations all of them trying to conquer the big peaks in the Himalayan range which were mainly the Everest , K2, Kanchenjunga, Annapurna and Nanga Parbhat. A good amount of information of the Sherpas ( Tibetans who migrated into Nepal and India) and their life style and what made them the people of choice to assist and ferry goods in expeditions are given in details. Most of the expeditions preferred these mountain men as they were physically suited to this altitude more than the others, their strength and Iron will to survive in high altitudes was something that made them the first choice compared to any other clans who were also ready to do the job of a porter (ferrying goods from camp to camp along the mountain). Needless to say in spite of their huge contribution to the expedition they were still treated like second grade citizens, the Europeans particularly the Germans and the Brits. Things however started to change somewhere in the mid 30s after a series of setback to many expeditions most important among them was the expeditions to Nanga Parbat ( the naked mountain , the ninth highest peak in the world and considered more deadly to climb then the Everest) .The Germans after many attempts to scale Nanga Parbat planned another one in 1934 with almost 20 Sherpas as part of the troop , things looked comfortable but as the days progressed the captain of the troop realized there were running out of time and money , there was tremendous pressure way back at home with Adolf Hitler personally monitoring the progress of this expedition, there was some sort of political rivalry between the British and Germans in who would scale the peaks in the Himalayas first and make their country proud, in this whole rush a series of fatal mistake by the captain led to death of all but three from the troop of about 30 people which included German climbers supported by the Sherpas.Similar setbacks happened in the expeditions to K2, Kanchenjunga and Everest leaving the Sherpa community with not just loss of lives but also confidence and the fact they were not treated as equals when it came to sharing equipment, sharing tents and compensation for the job done added insult to the injury. Things slowly started to change for the good with the Sherpas taking more control of the happenings during the expedition, they were more proactive in giving warning signs, setting up tents and handling the Logistics during the climb. Initially this probably led to lot of friction especially amongst some of the European climbers but it slowly started to change and quite of few of them started getting the recognition they deserved.A good amount of details about high altitude, the need for acclimatization, the finer details and technicalities of mountaineering, frostbites and its dangers and avalanches are covered and make you nervous about how these people did what they did about 80-90 years back, numerous lives were lost because of high altitude sickness, frostbites but that never stopped people from trying again year after year until the summit was finally conquered.Surprisingly all major peaks were conquered between 1953-1956 including the most feared of them the Nanga Parbat and the mighty Everest .A good amount of information that went into the conquest of Everest in the 1953 is given, the planning that went into it, the thought process of the captain of the expedition John Hunt and his strategy for the final assault are worth knowing, as per plan the captain had made two teams the first was of two Englishmen and the second was as Edmund Hillary the New Zealander and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay , Hunt being an Englishman wanted someone from England to reach the summit first and make this event coincide with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth which was to happen in the coming week but somehow due to bad weather they couldn’t carry on and the chance to ascent was now given to Hillary and Tenzing.Finally On that event full day of May 29th 1953 the two men scaled the mighty Everest and stood and could see into Tibet, they shook hands, Tenzing hugged Hillary and they patted each other. The mighty Everest had taken many lives but was finally conquered, both of them took pictures with their Ice Axes and flags of Britain, Nepal, India and the United Nations. When they came down everybody asked which of the two men on the rope had first got to the Summit, Tenzing and Hillary agreed between them not to answer this question, It dint matter , they said, they had done it together and the fact remains that Hillary wouldn’t be there without Tenzing and Tenzing wouldn't be there without Hillary.

  • Wayne
    2019-06-01 23:59

    This is a nice presentation of the oral history of the Sherpas, but at times paints the Westerners involved in the story as the bad guys.A more balanced presentation (not judging past actions by current thought, for example) would have been nice.

  • Joanna Bryniarska
    2019-06-10 20:57

    If you are interested in mountaineering expeditions, and those who started it all, this is THE book to read. I couldn't put it down and will read it again.

  • Raghu
    2019-06-12 22:44

    Colonial history around the world has always been the story of the Masters, be it in India or Africa or the Americas. Author Jonathan Neale says that the saga of mountaineering in the Himalayas is one such, where the written history is one that chronicles the achievements of Western mountaineers (the Sahibs) while the Sherpas' role is relegated to just being illiterate, brave, laughing, superstitious porters. He takes a good look at Himalayan mountaineering history through the Sherpas' eyes and finds another perspective of the same events and men. This book is all about giving the Sherpas their rightful place in Himalayan mountaineering. He does it well through personal interviews with legendary Sherpas such as Ang Tsering, Da Thondup and others. It is a splendidly heart-warming book.Jonathan Neale believes that the 1934 Nanga Parbat expedition of the Germans, which ended in a terrible tragedy, was the decisive moment when the Sherpas changed their views of themselves forever. They realized then that they were the decent and responsible ones on the mountain and not the Sahibs, who left their weaker colleagues and the Sherpas to die on the high mountains in hopeless situations and went down rapidly to save their own lives on Nanga Parbat. The author documents other occassions on the mountain where the Sahibs have looked at the lives of their fellow-Europeans and that of the Sherpas in different lights. In the 1947 Swiss expedition to Kedarnath, tragedy strikes and Sherpa Wangdi Norbu was badly injured. He could neither stand nor walk. The Swiss mountaineers decide that they were too exhausted to carry him and so leave him inside a crevasse alone without anyone staying with him and then go on to their campsites. The next day, they send a party of Sherpas to find Norbu but they couldn't locate him. The Swiss climbers wouldn't come looking for Norbu even then. Fortunately, Sherpa Tenzing comes around later and rescues Norbu. Neale says that the western climbers paid scant respect to the Sherpas' knowledge of the mountains and therefore often put the Sherpas' lives in great danger by camping in avalanche-prone regions or failing to recognize signs of severe altitude sickness, a condition which was unknown to science then. Neale concludes that the Sahibs entertained two contradictory notions within themselves – that the Sherpas are stronger and hence they must carry the heavy loads but they Sahibs themselves are stronger and hence they must be the ones to summit. Lest one might think that the book is all about slamming the European mountaineers, it also documents the affectionate friendship between the Swiss climber Raymond Lambert and Sherpa Tenzing, pays tribute to the splendid work done by Ed Hillary for the welfare of the Sherpas and narrates in thrilling fashion the solo ascent of Nanga Parbat without oxygen by the German climber Hermann Buhl. The author brings new insights on Sherpas as well as on Himalayan mountaineering. Some of the ones which struck me were as follows:1. It is not by accident that many of the 8000m+ peaks were summitted in the 1950s rather than before. Starting with the French expedition to the Annapurna in 1951, the climbers happened to be working class alpine guides or others who worked ordinary jobs – like Hillary, Paul Petzold, Hermann Buhl and Lambert. They were hungrier than the genteel class of climbers who preceded them. They treated the Sherpas with respect and there was no class barrier between them and the Sherpas. All this resulted in greater success on the mountain.2. The Sahibs, for whom summitting was more important, took many risks. For the Sherpas, what matters on the mountain is their lives and families. One mishap, and if they lose fingers or a limb or their lives, the entire future of their families is jeopardised. This was not understood by the Sahibs who thought that the Sherpas were superstitious and hence afraid on the climb.3. The expeditions never compensated the Sherpas for injuries not resulting in death. Only when a Sherpa was killed, his family was paid compensation.4. In the 1930s, the Western climbers did not understand altitude and its effects on the climbers. The Sherpas had an empirical understanding of it and called it 'pass sickness' and recognized the symptoms. In the same way, the Sherpas felt that foreigners did not understand avalanches and never listened to the Sherpas' warnings about them. Since the Sherpas' warnings were couched in religious terms, the climbers ignored them as superstitions and consequently risked their own lives as well as that of the Sherpas.5. The Sahibs looked at the Sherpas as loyal and faithful. Jonathan Neale takes issue with it saying that it fits the European paternalist view of the Sherpas. He says it is flawed because he has never heard the Sherpas speak of loyalty. Loyalty and faithfulness are found in unequal relationships. He says the Sherpas speak of honesty, which is a virtue among equals.One criticism readers from the West might have for this book may be that Neale is judging Western mountaineers of the 1920s and 30s with values and beliefs of the 21st century. However, I think the author is only trying to correct a historical injustice done to the Sherpas for the past 80 years. In setting it right, at times he is quite forthright.The book made me think of the other untold stories of colonialism. Many Indians were taken to Africa as indentured labor to lay the railroad from Kampala to Mombasa. Like the Sherpas, they too were illiterate. They did their work heroically in the jungles, braving man-eating lions and elephant herds and tse-tse flies. But this story exists today only as Lt.Col John Patterson's 'Man eaters of Tsavo' rather than from the coolies' point of view. I suppose many similar stories need to be told of the black African slaves and their lives in the Americas as well.Jonathan Neale has done a splendid service to the Sherpas through this book. As an indian, I salute him.

  • Abby Rangwala
    2019-06-04 02:57

    Great Book - Well Written. Memorializes and Recognizes the Contributions of the Often ForgottenA well researched and written book that is thrilling and at the same time covers many social area of the Sherpas and the Pakistani High Altitude Porters. Memorializes and bring needed Recognition to the often forgotten Support Team - The ones who do the heavy lifting.

  • Mindy
    2019-05-29 03:49

    A well researched book that covers the viewpoint of the Sherpa. Well researched and well written; definitely a tough read in many sections but would recommend to anyone who has any interest in mountaineering or trekking.

  • Karen
    2019-05-30 20:51

    First mountain climbing book I've read in a while ... I used to read them often. What's unusual about this book is the research the author did to understand the viewpoint of the Sherpas and other peoples who helped support the "white sahibs" climbs over the years. The British and German climbers from the 1930s to 1950s do not, for the most part, make a good showing for themselves when it comes to how they treated the people without whom they could not have successfully climbed the highest Himalayan peaks. Very much a piece of the sad legacy of colonialism.

  • Julie Bell
    2019-06-16 03:03

    Completely makes me want to trek in Nepal.

  • Mesa
    2019-05-23 03:53

    I loved this... though I was in Nepal when I read it.