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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  8,095 ratings  ·  332 reviews
In 1950, no mountain higher than 8,000 meters had ever been climbed. Maurice Herzog and other members of the French Alpine Club had resolved to try. Their goal was a 26,493-foot Himalayan peak called Annapurna. But unlike other climbs, which draw on the experience of prior reconnaissance, the routes up Annapurna had never been analyzed before. Herzog and his team had to lo ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 1st 1997 by Lyons Press (first published 1951)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  8,095 ratings  ·  332 reviews

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Apr 08, 2013 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 Non Disclosure Agreements (legal wai
Jonathan Ashleigh
Feb 09, 2016 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.
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
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Ann Carpenter
May 13, 2012 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.
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 eventuated the way this book is told, where Herzog does take a lot of the glory
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Ridhika Khanna
Caution: This is going to be a long review.

As pretty much summed up in the description, this is the story of the first ascent of an 8000’er peak.
Back in 1950, there was no idea of climbing a peak of such a status. The maps provided by Surveyor General of India and other governmental agencies were insufficient, inaccurate and sometimes misleading. With such maps and an appalling quality of climbing equipment, Herzog and team made it up to the summit of the mighty Annapurna. It surely was a huge
Jan 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a bit of a slog until they get to Annapurna and start the summit. After that point, it becomes a gripping story. A large part of me finds it hard to believe such adventures are called a success when the only reason many of the French climbing team is alive is because Sherpas literally carried them down the mountain and then all the way to India (while the white men's digits were literally rotting off). In fact the two who sumitted would almost certainly have died. I don't think their Fre ...more
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Reniel Engelbrecht
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Annapurna is a mountain climbing staple about the first 8000m peak ever climbed. I found myself googling many mountaineering terms, but that didn’t take away from the epic adventure that left me flying through pages. Certainly a captivating story, yet the writing style is somewhat bland and repetitive, maybe from the translating. I also wasn’t a fan of the author, the expedition leader, who I found to be arrogant and selfish. Nonetheless I greatly enjoyed the book and it’s a must-read for any ad ...more
Dec 17, 2012 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 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
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Danny Schiff
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Each spring break when I trek in Nepal, I pick up a book about the Himalayas, and this year's addition did not disappoint. Three years before Everest was climbed, in 1950 a French expedition successfully climbed an 8,000+ meter peak for the first time. The remarkable part of the story isn't the ascent but rather the descent as Herzog and his team were supported down from Annapurna after a first ascent which would change all of their lives and rewrite what was considered possible in the world's h ...more
Sep 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I was expecting something different. I thought this was a story about an avalanche and/or a fall off a mountain resulting in a couple climbers' unimaginable struggle to return to base camp.

So there was an avalanche, there were a few minor falls, and there was a struggle to return to base camp but ... there were Sherpas and others (a large crew) helping. There were two men who reached the peak alone but they had support crews at the five camps leading all the way up. They were never in danger of
Allison Sesame
A good read but definitely the “official” account. The trek down the mountain and the medical care (such as it was) was brutal. Herzog never seems to take responsibility for his role in how the expedition turned out.
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little slow-paced

The mountaineering parts were gripping, and I enjoyed reading about 1950s field medicine. The actual travel memoir and Herzog's ethnographic meanderings were less interesting.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good story but definitely feels like the “state” sponsored version. And it’s crazy how much high altitude climbing has changed since this book.
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reads
I had to re-read it yet again following David Robert's "True Summit" to see if my younger selves missed something obvious. They did not. The book is still great. Possibly the greatest. ...more
Elsbeth Kwant
A wonderful book! Like the Snow Leopard, but earlier. Well written - it tells the story of an expedition conceived in France, with a strategy totally impossible in the Himalaya's. How the mountain is not on the map, found by extensive exploring, how the mountain is won, but nearly at the price of life - fascinating on many levels. ...more
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 rated it it was amazing
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 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 rated it really liked it
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
Sundeep Supertramp
May 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 07, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
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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

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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).” 5 likes
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