The Shining Mountain

The first ascent of the West Wall of Changabang

Author: Peter Boardman Sir Chris Bonington

Series title:

Paperback publication date: 04 Mar 2021

Paperback ISBN: 9781839810534

Peter Boardman planned to tackle the unclimbed West Wall of Changabang in 1976. This was perhaps the most fearsome and technically challenging granite wall in the Garhwal Himalaya. Amusing, lucidly descriptive, and immensely readable, The Shining Mountain is the very personal and honest story of this remarkable attempt.

‘It’s a preposterous plan. Still, if you do get up it, it’ll be the hardest thing that’s been done in the Himalayas.’ So spoke Chris Bonington when Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker presented him with their plan to tackle the unclimbed West Wall of Changabang – the Shining Mountain – in 1976. Bonington’s was one of the more positive responses; most felt the climb impossibly hard, especially for a two-man, lightweight expedition. This was, after all, perhaps the most fearsome and technically challenging granite wall in the Garhwal Himalaya and an ascent – particularly one in a lightweight style – would be more significant than anything done on Everest at the time. The idea had been Joe Tasker’s. He had photographed the sheer, shining, white granite sweep of Changabang’s West Wall on a previous expedition and asked Pete to return with him the following year. Tasker contributes a second voice throughout Boardman’s story, which starts with acclimatisation, sleeping in a Salford frozen food store, and progresses through three nights of hell, marooned in hammocks during a storm, to moments of exultation at the variety and intricacy of the superb, if punishingly difficult, climbing. It is a story of how climbing a mountain can become an all-consuming goal, of the tensions inevitable in forty days of isolation on a two-man expedition; as well as a record of the moment of joy upon reaching the summit ridge against all odds. First published in 1978, The Shining Mountain is Peter Boardman’s first book. It is a very personal and honest story that is also amusing, lucidly descriptive, very exciting, and never anything but immensely readable. It was awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for literature in 1979, winning wide acclaim. His second book, Sacred Summits, was published shortly after his death in 1982.

Peter Boardman was born on Christmas Day in 1950 and became one of Britain’s most-respected high altitude mountaineers. He was a mountaineering instructor at Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms, and National Officer of the British Mountaineering Council before being appointed Director of the International School of Mountaineering in Leysin, Switzerland. He was part of Chris Bonington’s 1975 Everest expedition, made an almost impossibly difficult ascent of Changabang with Joe Tasker in 1976 and went on to climb Kangchenjunga and to attempt to summit K2, being beaten back by poor weather and exhaustion. Mount Kongur followed in 1981 and, in March 1982, in a small expedition with Chris Bonington, Joe Tasker and Dick Renshaw, he attempted the previously unclimbed and highly difficult North East Ridge of Everest, where he and Joe Tasker tragically lost their lives. Peter and Joe left two legacies. One was their great endeavour, their climbs on high peaks with bold, lightweight innovative methods, the second and more lasting achievement is the books they wrote and left behind. Peter's talent for writing emerged through his climbing career. The success of his first book The Shining Mountain was immediate in the climbing world and won him wider acclaim with the John Llewelyn Rhys Memorial Prize for literature in 1979. Sacred Summits, published shortly after his death, described the climbing year of 1979, the trips to New Guinea, Kangchenjunga and Gaurisankar. The Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature was established in Pete and Joes’ honour, and is presented annually to the author or co-authors of an original work which has made an outstanding contribution to mountain literature. For more information about the Boardman Tasker Prize, visit: www.boardmantasker.com

Born in 1934, Chris Bonington – mountaineer, writer, photographer and lecturer – started climbing at the age of sixteen in 1951. It has been his passion ever since. He made the first British ascent of the north face of the Eiger and led the expedition that made the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna, the biggest and most difficult climb in the Himalaya at the time. He went on to lead the expedition that made the first ascent of the south-west face of Everest in 1975, when Doug Scott and Dougal Haston became the first Britons to summit, and he reached the summit of Everest himself in 1985 with a Norwegian expedition. He has written seventeen books, fronted numerous television programmes and has lectured to the public and corporate audiences all over the world. He received a knighthood in 1996 for services to mountaineering, was president of the Council for National Parks for eight years, and is the non-executive chairman of Berghaus and a chancellor of Lancaster University.

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