"one of the most enjoyable days' mountaineering I've ever had": First Edition of Wilfrid Noyce's South Col: One Man's Adventure on the Ascent of Everest 1953; Signed by Him
South Col: One Man’s Adventure on the Ascent of Everest 1953.
Noyce, Wilfrid; Foreword by Sir John Hunt.$650.00
Item Number: 81996
London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1954.
First edition of Noyce’s firsthand account of the ascent of South Col. Octavo, original cloth, illustrated endpapers, illustrated with photographs, maps. Signed by the author on the title page, “Good wishes Wilfrid Noyce.” Near fine in a near fine price-clipped dust jacket, contemporary name on the verso of the front free endpaper. Foreword by Sir John Hunt. Uncommon signed as Noyce passed away in a mountaineering accident in 1962.
On May 21, 1953 Noyce and the Sherpa Annullu (the younger brother of Da Tensing) were the first members of the expedition to reach Everest's South Col, after what Noyce said was "one of the most enjoyable days' mountaineering I've ever had". They left Camp VII at 9.30 am, both using oxygen; according to Noyce, "I had told Anullu that we would not start too early, for fear of frostbite." Several hours later they reached the highest point attained by the British expedition to date: "an aluminium piton with a great coil of thick rope" left by George Lowe and party. The climbers in the camps below, according to Hunt, were watching their progress on this vital part of the climb; by early afternoon "their speed had noticeably increased and our excitement soon grew to amazement when it dawned on us that Noyce and Annullu were heading for the South Col itself". Not long after Hunt made that observation, they reached the Col. It was 2.40 p.m. Wilfrid Noyce and his companion Annullu stood at that moment above the South Col of Everest, at about 26,000 feet. They were gazing down on the scene of the Swiss drama, and they were also looking upwards to the final pyramid of Everest itself. It was a great moment for them both, and it was shared by all of us who watched it. Their presence there was symbolic of our success in overcoming the most crucial problem of the whole climb; they had reached an objective which we had been striving to attain for twelve anxious days. In a passage in South Col, Noyce's book of the expedition published the following year, he gives an account of the scene that greeted him at the Col: "We were on a summit, overlooked in this whole scene only by Lhotse and Everest. And this was the scene long dreamed, long hoped for. To the right and above, the crenellations of Lhotse cut a blue sky fringed with snow cloudlets. To the left, snow mist still held Everest mysteriously. But the eye wandered hungry and fascinated over the plateau between; a space of boulders and bare ice perhaps four hundred yards square, absurdly solid and comforting at first glance in contrast with the sweeping ridges around, or the blank mist that masked the Tibetan hills beyond. But across it a noisy little wind moaned its warning that the South Col, goal of so many days' ambition, was not comfortable at all. And in among the glinting ice and dirty grey boulders there lay some yellow tatters – all that remained of the Swiss expedition of last year."