The Valley of Flowers: An outstanding Himalayan climbing season

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Vertebrate Publishing, Aug 25, 2015 - Sports & Recreation - 200 pages
In his delightful The Valley of Flowers, mountaineer Frank Smythe takes you on a botanical expedition to the Garhwal Himalaya. Alongside the author, scale the steep craggy mountains and bathe in crystal clear pools; breathe in the scented foothills of the Himalaya and their carpets of peonies, roses, rhododendrons and gentian. Experience 'the keen, biting air of the heights and the soft, scented air of the valleys'. Climber and adventurer Smythe journeys through the Himalaya's Byundar Pass, climbs the Mana Peak, descends into the Byundar Valley, and comes terrifyingly close to an encounter with The Abominable Snowman. The Valley of Flowers is a pleasurable escape for any climber, walker, mountain lover or gardener, or indeed anyone who needs reminding of the beauty and serenity of the natural world.

Selected pages


The Valley of Flowers
The Low Foothills
The High Foothills
Approach to the Bhyundar Valley
Base Camp
A Minor Climb
The Snow Col on Rataban
On Doing Nothing
The Belvedere
The Bhyundar Rock Wall
A Rock Climb
The Lower
The Abominable Snowman
My Finest Snow and Ice Peak
Second Attempt on Rataban
The Banke Plateau

The Snow Peak
The Second Base Camp

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About the author (2015)

Frank Smythe was an outstanding climber. In a short life – he died aged forty-nine – he was at the centre of high-altitude mountaineering development in its early years. In the late 1920s he pioneered two important routes up the Brenva Face of Mont Blanc, followed in the 1930s by a sequence of major Himalayan expeditions: he joined the attempt on Kangchenjunga in 1930, led the successful Kamet bid in 1931 and was a key player in the Everest attempts of 1933, 1936 and 1938. In 1937, he made fine ascents in the Garhwal in a rapid lightweight style that was very modern in concept. Smythe was the author of twenty-seven books, all immensely popular. The erudite mountain writers of his era each offer something different. Bill Tilman excelled in his dry humorous observations. Eric Shipton enthused about the mountain landscape and its exploration. Smythe gives us wonderful detail in the climbing. His tense descriptions of moments of difficulty, danger, relief and elation are compelling – and we are not spared the discomfort, fatigue and dogged struggle. He also writes movingly about nature’s more beautiful and tender face – there is no keener observer of cloud, light and colour, the onset of a thunderstorm, or a sublime valley transformed by wild flowers. There is also a strong feeling of history in his books: the superior attitudes of colonialism that, as the years rolled on, gave way to a more mellow stance and a genuine respect for his Indian and Sherpa companions. Today, his books make compelling reading: well-written and gripping tales that offer fascinating windows into the history of climbing and exploration. They are essential reading for all those interested in mountaineering and the danger and drama of those early expeditions.

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