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Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8000-Metre Peak

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  5,280 Ratings  ·  207 Reviews
One of the great works of mountaineering literature


In 1950, no mountain higher than 8,000 meters had ever been climbed. Maurice Herzog and other members of the French Alpine Club resolved to try. This is the enthralling story of the first conquest of Annapurna and the harrowing descent. With breathtaking courage and grit manifest on every
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 3rd 2011 by Vintage Classics (first published 1951)
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Jonathan Ashleigh
Feb 09, 2016 Jonathan Ashleigh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recent
The writer or the translator described the events in this book in a way that made it not worth my time. I was astoundingly impressed with what was accomplished considering the technology they had, while smoking, but found myself scanning through pages that left a lot to be desired.
Apr 08, 2013 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written but pretty self-aggrandizing account of the 1st summit of 8,000 m peak.

On the one hand it's cool to read about how they did things 60 years ago - starting with finding the actual mountain! Since no 8,000 m peak had ever been climbed (this was 3 yrs before Hillary/Tenzing on Everest) nothing was a given including what face to assault and how to actually get there in the first place!

Later learned Herzog forced all other members of his party to sign waivers to NOT write personal accoun
Ann Carpenter
May 13, 2012 Ann Carpenter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the first adult books I read as a child about 60 yrs ago. I still remember how much I loved it. I have recommended it to a couple of my grandchildren as a reminder that there will be many challenges in life, most conquerable with determination.
Feb 23, 2012 Judd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love mountaineering and this is the king of mountaineering books. The story of the first 8000 meter mountain to be climbed. The first to be climbed on the first try. Yet, Annapurna still remains the most difficult mountain on Earth to climb. Maurice Herzog's team of French mountaineers suffered greatly for claiming Annapurna's summit, but in the end all I could say is, "They just don't build men like they used to." This crew of post-colonialism adventurers bit off more than they could handled, ...more
The summit of Annapurna was a masterpiece of climbing, and the book is nothing short of a bible for enthusiasts… however, if you’re new to the genre I would still recommend Eiger Dreams by Krakauer. Its much more approachable and far less studied. Annapurna took a while to get off the ground both for the men tackling the rock and for the narrative. They had to find and scout the mountain, set up supply chains, and it was all very tedious, necessary and excruciating. The narrative suffered for it ...more
A readable telling of the first summiting of an 8000m mountain - a few years before Hillary climbed Everest with Tensing. It was the days of bare-footed porters, climbers smoking cigarettes at any given opportunity and Indian Survey maps which only vaguely resemble to actual lie of the land. In fact a chapter is devoted to wandering about attempting to locate Annapurna.
There is some controversy over whether the climb eventuate the way this book is told, where Herzog does takes a lot of the glory
Jan 11, 2008 Dwight rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a climber -- I'm a tea shop trekker. I've trekked - walked - in approx 50 of Nepal's 75 districts. I love any trek where I know there's a tea shop at least every couple of hours, and some place for a hot meal and a dry bed at the end of the day. Ice picks and crampons are not my thing. That being said, I enjoyed this book immensely. Even if your interest is more about Nepal more than the climbing, I'd recommend this book. It provides a pretty rare look into the Nepal of 1950, that is to ...more
Feb 06, 2015 Shucheta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I'm torn between one star and five. Five star for the high adventure, one star for how the the expedition team treated the locals. This book gives account of 1950 French expedition to Annapurna, where they have to actually locate the mountain first before climbing it. The book itself is a page turner, I practically finished the last half or more in one sitting. While all these are fine and dandy, what is NOT okay is to force, yes, literally force the villagers to work as porters, take the load o ...more
Dec 17, 2012 Vidula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
Recently, I ordered a book from Flipkart "Annapurna, The first conquest of an 8000-meter peak". It was first written in French by Maurice Herzog, and then later it was translated into English.

Maurice Herzog, was a French mountaineer who became the first man to climb an 8000-meter mountain, Annapurna, which is the 10th highest mountain in the world.

I ordered the book on the same day that Maurice Herzog had died.

This is my first attempt at writing a book-review and I hope I don't give away the b
Jun 08, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At long last I've read the "granddaddy" of mountaineering first-person accounts, and it is still a nerve-wracking adventure story more than sixty years later. From being "lost" between two of the iconic 14 peaks of the Himalaya with totally mistaken maps, to the intuitions and skills that would plot a route, to the supreme efforts to haul supplies, to the beauty and glory of the summit achievement, to the excruciating details of the descent and retreat from the mountains, this book has it all. T ...more
Jul 20, 2012 Dagny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Annapurna is subtitled First Conquest of an 8000-Meter Peak and is the account of the 1950 French Himalayan Expedition. The first two-thirds of the book alternated between interesting information and slow going as the expedition was organized and arrived at the base camp. But the final third of the book was so gripping that I read it at one sitting.
Bing Gordon
Jan 20, 2016 Bing Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bing-read-this
Terrific explicit details about expert mountaineering, from preparation and acclimation to handholds and set ropes. The interior monologue of the summiting experience rivals Beryl Markham at her best.
I have never climbed a mountain in my life-never really felt the urge to climb anything except the stairs in my house! But I do love reading about expeditions and this is without doubt one of the best. There is so much detail about getting ready for the trip, the trek to the mountains, the climb and then trying to trek back out. It really was a dramatic read.

It starts with the arrival in India and being held up at customs for two days as they are cheerfully told by staff 'Your equipment can all
Feb 16, 2012 Vivek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is of a true heroic mountaineering expedition. The conquest of Annapurna, while shadowed by that of the Everest, doesn't command much lower respect, given the harsh treatment meted out to the heroic mountaineers.

Starting from the immaculate arrangements of a large scale expedition, to the strategic moves of exploration within a given time limit, the book initially talks only about how Maurice and his gang slowly discovered and decided the routes and plans. It seemed to take ages, but
Jun 08, 2012 Andy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I read this a few years back and thought I had reviewed it here but it seems not. I don't recall reading it before I went to Nepal in 2005 but maybe I did. Anyway.

Annapurna is a fantastic account by Herzog of the first 8000m mountain climbed, perfectly encapsulating the experience of high altitude climbing and the mindset of those who do. It starts off a little dry and boring as they plan and wander through the foothills though having spent a fair time in Nepal, particularly around the Annapurna
Mar 14, 2010 PDXReader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Annapurna reminded me of Three Cups of Tea, in that it was a great story that could have been better written. Herzog's recount of his ordeal in Nepal is remarkable for being a first-hand account of an amazing adventure that he and his party barely survived, but I found it lacking somehow. I'm not sure if it was missing the dramatic tension I expected, or perhaps the level of emotion Herzog had to have been experiencing wasn't relayed to the extent expected... I'm not quite sure. I was glad I rea ...more
Apr 03, 2013 Laurent rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-books
Took about half the book to get into it but then it became interesting

I found Annapurna to be a bit of a slog to read for a classic adventure novel. The main reason for this was because the first half of the novel, involving the logistics and how they got to the base of Annapurna, were somewhat uninteresting for me. A lot of the route planning, described by Herzog uses jargon that non-climbers like myself may find difficult to comprehend.

Having said this, once the team does get to Annapurna and
Sundeep Supertramp
May 05, 2011 Sundeep Supertramp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-kind

The expedition of 8 French people, started to conquer 2 "Eight THousander" - Dhaulagiri and Annapurna.

The first half of the book deals with the ridges and reconnaissance in search for the route to summit of DHAULAGIRI. After a lot of effort and time, they will learn that DHAULAGIRI is inaccesible...

Now the quest to the summit of ANNAPURNA starts. 3 ridges (routes) to the summit are proved fatal and dangerous. But at last one ridge is discovered b
Jul 20, 2014 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fabulous book and thrilling read. For some reason I always want to read high altitude mountaineering books in July! Herzog is admirable in many ways, but I can't help but notice the macho arrogance and patriarchy of the men who speak of "conquering" and "attacking" this magnificent natural geleologic wonder with"assaults" on this mountain whose name means"Goddess of the Harvest". They continuously gravelly risked the lives of many many others to bring them down from the mountain after ...more
Kyle Magin
As an adventure novel, Annapurna holds up. The pacing is mostly excellent, the descriptions of complex climbing techniques don't bog down the narrative and the dialogue is tense.
It falls down when read from a 2016 perspective. The casual racism toward the Sherpas and 'Coolies' is tough to read; Herzog comes off as super paternalistic. Also, the egos at play are funny at times and exhausting at others.
Extreme mountain climbing pre-Everest.

In 1950, no-one had ever climbed a mountain higher than 8,000 meters. (Everest had not yet been conquered.) Herzog led a team of French climbers, plus a surgeon, into Nepal with hopes of setting a new record. Annapurna was one of two peaks under consideration for the assault. Neither had ever even been explored, let alone climbed. The team was under a time constraint, as well, because the monsoon season started in 2 months and they had to be out of the mount
Feb 03, 2017 Alan rated it really liked it
Tat gave me this as a Christmas present. It was fascinating to read.
There were the references to places we knew, had seen or visited.
There were glimpses into the Nepal that had already been lost by the time we arrived 30 years later.
There were examples of the culture that seemed very familiar.
There were experiences way beyond anything I could ever have imagined doing or even wanting to do. There were reminders that we went to Annapurna Base Camp 37 years later and that was only half way up!
John Igo
Nov 26, 2016 John Igo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't have time to write a through summary but, this book was amazing.

It was a gripping story of working your ass off and paying a huge price to achieve something amazing. The writing was poetic, way more than I expected.

Read this book even if you're not a mountaineer, because it's not about mountaineering. It's about sacrifice to achieve something great told by way of a mountaineering story. The final line in the book sums up so much of life.
"There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men"
Jan 22, 2017 Ruby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The earliest and highest accomplishment of the time. Only two of the hikers made it, and both came back losing their extremities. It was a passionately told, fast moving account, that even amidst tragedy shows by people like John Krakauer would take the same chance on a different mountain decades later.
Dec 19, 2016 Carla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

gripping...totally disagreed w/critics of herzog- thought his account gave due credit to all members of the team, and underscored the success of the ascent as a team effort...pretty incredible given their relatively unsophisticated gear, lack of knowledge of the geography of the himalaya at the time, the local customs, or experience climbing at 20K+ feet.
Tomas Bella
First half of the book is very detailed and very boring. Second half is very detailed and quite nerve-racking.
Diana Olson
Jan 30, 2017 Diana Olson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nonfiction, a great adventure. This is my second time to read and enjoyed it as much as the first!
Dec 17, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good overall, but the descent dragged on.
Stefan Martiyan
Jan 31, 2017 Stefan Martiyan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could give 6 stars I would. The best mountaineering narrative ever written. Fact.
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Herzog was a French alpinist most famously associated with the conquest of Annapurna in June 1950. This was the first 8000 metre peak to be climbed, a feat made more remarkable by the climbers' decision not to use supplemental oxygen during the climb. Although the climb was successful the descent became a two-week epic, from which Herzog narrowly escaped with his life.

Herzog's book of the expediti
More about Maurice Herzog...

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“Annapurna, to which we had gone emptyhanded, was a treasure on which we should live the rest of our days. With this realization we turn the page: a new life begins.

There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men.”
“I felt as though I were plunging into something new and quite abnormal. I had the strangest and most vivid impressions, such as I had never before known in the mountains. There was something unnatural in the way I saw Lachenal and everything around us. I smiled to myself at the paltriness of our efforts, for I could stand apart and watch myself making these efforts. But all sense of exertion was gone, as though there were no longer any gravity. This diaphanous landscape, this quintessence of purity--these were not the mountains I knew: they were the mountains of my dreams (pp.206-207).” 4 likes
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