Annapurna: A Woman's Place

Overview

In this twentieth anniversary edition of Annapurna: A Woman's Place, expedition leader Arlene Blum chronicles the dramatic story of leading the American Women's Himalayan Expedition through storms, icefalls, avalanches, conflicts, and reconciliations -- all the way to the summit.

Expedition leader Arlene Blum tells the story of 13 women who scaled the treacherous slopes of Annapurna I.

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Overview

In this twentieth anniversary edition of Annapurna: A Woman's Place, expedition leader Arlene Blum chronicles the dramatic story of leading the American Women's Himalayan Expedition through storms, icefalls, avalanches, conflicts, and reconciliations -- all the way to the summit.

Expedition leader Arlene Blum tells the story of 13 women who scaled the treacherous slopes of Annapurna I.

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Editorial Reviews

Alan Ryan
Twenty years ago, it was big news. A team of 13 American women had successfully climbed Annapurna I in Nepal, reaching the peak (at 26,504 feet above sea level) on October 15, 1978. They were the first women ever to do such a thing.

Today, when women are climbing heavenward everywhere, acquiring Olympic medals like they were costume jewelry, and routinely winning Alaska's Iditarod dogsled race, the news from Annapurna seems a little quaint. But it was big news then, and historically, it's still big news today.

Arlene Blum was team leader on that expedition, and her Annapurna slyly subtitled A Woman's Place, chronicles the team's battles with the mountain and with the mountain of prejudice they had to overcome. In addition to ice, snow, rock, wind, and altitude, they had to sell 15,000 T-shirts just to raise the money to get there in the first place. And there was tragedy as well as triumph. Two of the 13 fell to their deaths on the mountain.

For the Sierra Club's 20th anniversary edition of the book, Blum has added a preface and afterword. The latter is particularly moving. Blum brings readers up-to-date on the lives of the climbers and asks them what the experience meant. One of them, quoting a sign in a casino, observes about the mountain, about climbing, and about life itself, "You must be present to win." The legacy of Blum and her team's triumph lives on. You'll see it looming in the background of Pamela Logan's recent Among Warriors : A Woman Martial Artist in Tibet. Logan has a doctorate in aerospace science and a third-degree black belt in Shotokan karate. A few years ago she had a powerful urge to go trekking among the wild places and often wilder peoples of eastern Tibet and to seek out the Khampas, "Tibet's infamous race of warriors." While she moved on and upward and dreamed of forbidden Lhasa, she learned a lot about strange peoples, about Buddhism (though not from the monk who wanted to know how much her boots cost), and about herself. The personal tales of travel in Lucy McCauley's excellent anthology, A Women in the Wild, may be a little tamer, but they are no less vivid. Included are Annie Dillard in Ecuador, Jane Goodall in the Congo, Robyn Davidson in India, and McCauley's own account of climbing a volcano in Guatemala, plus experiences in Iceland and Israel, Kenya and Borneo and Bolivia, and everywhere in between.

I like this book. The selections are good, the writing is bright, and there's local color galore.
— Alan Ryan, bn.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578050222
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Edition description: 20th Anniversary Edition
  • Edition number: 20
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 7.37 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Arlene Blum is a biochemist with a doctorate in physical chemistry. In her twenty years of climbing, she has taken part in more than fifteen expeditions, including the first all-woman climb of Mount McKinley and the 1976 American Bicentennial Expedition to Mount Everest. Ms. Blum also led the 1983 Great Himalayan Traverse, a 2,000-mile trek from Bhutan to Ladakh. She lives in Berkeley, California.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2008

    Excellent Book!

    The expedition took place 30 years ago but this story will never get old. The author describes the amount of hard work and determination it takes to plan and execute an expedition. Even though the women on this expedition were some of the best rock climbers, ice climbers, and mountaineers in the country they still faced barriers along the way because of their gender. This is an important read for everyone because it inspires and reminds us that with hard work and determination any goal can be achieved.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2003

    Incredible and Inspirational!

    I thought this book was great. I am not a high altitude mountaineer, although I do hike peaks over 14,000ft. in Colorado that do not require ropes. The descriptions of how the women interacted and the thoughts of the author as the leader of the group gave another dimension to a book that was otherwise just another book about climbing a high mountain. However, that said, the book could have stood alone as 'just another high mountain' book, the feat of getting a team of all women up an 8000m peak in 1978 is an enormous accomplishment in itself. The discussion relating to the dynamics of an all female group was icing on the cake.

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