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On the Edge of Europe: Mountaineering in the Caucasus

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The highest mountains in Europe are not Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc de Courmayeur and Monte Rosa, but Elbrus, Shkhara and Dykh-tau. The Caucasus stretches for 600 miles from the Black Sea to the Caspian, the natural boundary between Europe and Asia. A wild and remote range, its foothills fought over right up to the second world war, its fiefdoms now once more asserting their independence, the summits of the Caucasus are significantly higher than those in the Alps and offer a valuable staging post between Alpine and ...
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Overview

The highest mountains in Europe are not Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc de Courmayeur and Monte Rosa, but Elbrus, Shkhara and Dykh-tau. The Caucasus stretches for 600 miles from the Black Sea to the Caspian, the natural boundary between Europe and Asia. A wild and remote range, its foothills fought over right up to the second world war, its fiefdoms now once more asserting their independence, the summits of the Caucasus are significantly higher than those in the Alps and offer a valuable staging post between Alpine and Himalayan experience. It was to the Caucasus that the Alpine pioneers turned when the Golden Age of Alpine exploration drew to a close. Alpine Clubmen who had become blase about the increasingly over-populated Alps relished the exploration of a new territory as untamed and challenging as the Alps had been a century before. It offered them exciting ice and rock routes on long steep ridges and spurs without the complication of extreme altitude imposed by the Himalaya. Most of the major tops were climbed in the decade between 1886-1896 by such men as Freshfield, Dent, Donkin, Mummery and Cockin. The start of the twentieth century came to be dominated in the Caucasus, as in the Alps, by the superior technique of the Germans and Austrians, men such as Schulze, Merkl and Bauer who achieved the great traverses for which the range is famous. Raeburn was there before the outbreak of the second world war and occasional western visits arranged during the cold war gave rare glimpses of unchaperoned Russians at play. But the highly organised Soviet climbing camps which so bemused John Hunt, Paul Nunn and Hamish MacInnes were where they forged lasting friendships with such men as Abalakov and Gippenreiter, leaders of a new generation of Russian climbers. Most accounts of Caucasus climbing have hitherto been buried away in club journals and magazines. On the Edge of Europe is the first book this century to collect together the best of the Caucasus writing in English and
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898863888
  • Publisher: Mountaineers Books, The
  • Publication date: 2/28/1994
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.46 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The New Playground 1
2 Snows Without Name 8
3 Crossing the Karagom Pass 14
Six Weeks' Travel in the Central Caucasus 20
4 A Peak in the Bag 46
5 The Ascent of Gestola 50
6 Annus Mirabilis 67
7 Dych Tau 73
8 'Herr Gott! Der Schlafplatz': the Tragedy of 1888 88
9 The Second Invasion 105
10 The Finest Climb 113
11 The End of an Era 130
12 Attempt on Ushba 136
13 Between the Wars 146
14 The Untrammelled Caucasus 151
Tetnuld Nordwand 157
15 The Red Snows 163
16 Welcome to the British Alpinists 169
17 'Sorry We Are Late' 186
18 Towards the Present Day 195
Twelve Nights on Schkelda 197
A Dream of Ushba 205
Ushba: From Russia with Love 209
Appendix I: A History of Mountaineering in the Caucasus 219
Appendix II: Who got there first? 241
Source Notes 245
Bibliography 248
Index 255
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