Return to the Scene of the Climb: Lester, Alison Jean, ed.
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Return to the Scene of the Climb

Author(s): Lester, Alison Jean, ed.

Copyright: 2023, UK
Specifications: 1st, 8vo, pp.xxvi, 245, 76 color & 1 bw photos, 1 bw map, pictorial cloth
Condition: signed, cloth new

James T. Lester (1927-2010) wasn't a mountaineer - he wasn't any sort of athlete, or even a hobbyist sportsman. But in 1963 he participated in the American Mount Everest Expedition (AMEE), when Jim Whittaker became the first American to summit Everest via the South Col route alongside Nawang Gombu Sherpa. Three weeks later, Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld became the first climbers to summit the via the dangerous and forbidding West Ridge - a route on which only a handful of climbers have since succeeded. Immediately after the expedition, Lester became the route-planner, chauffeur, interpreter, bill-payer, and comrade to five of the Sherpa climbers from the expedition on an eight-week road trip across the United States, a thank-you from the U.S. State Department for their invaluable help in the success of the effort. And 35 years later, in 1998, armed with a group photo of the AMEE Sherpa climbers, 70-year-old Lester returned to Nepal with one goal: to find as many of them as he could and discover what their lives had become in the intervening years.

In the final section of the book, Lester shares the life-enhancing stories - and the aspirations of the next generation - of the incredible men, women and children who enable foreign mountaineers to ascend Everest, often accompanying them on the treacherous climb while carrying significantly heavier loads. The lives of the Sherpa community are so often hidden on the edges of the greatest adventure stories, but in this part of ‘Return to the Scene of the Climb’ Lester makes them the central to the narrative. Written with humility, humour, and honesty, this book evokes the majestic Everest landscape and shines a new light on incredible stories of hard graft and heroism that would have been lost forever.

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