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Friday, 13 July 2012

Book review for Everest The Old Way- a bright remembering by David Peckett, John Driskell and Les Simms with Foreword by Sir Chris Bonnington

Photo: Everest The Old Way

This is a wonderful book describing a trek to Everest Base Camp undertaken by a group of five teachers in 1967 followed by a revisit to the area 43 years later in 2010. In 1967 these friends decided to undertake this trip together after meeting on their teacher training course in Sheffield where they all made a pact to save £10 a month (at the time over a quarter of their income) for two years in order to finance the trip.

Their journey was inspired by the words of climbing legend Geoffrey Winthrop Young “Live life to the full, blend dream with the deed” and also by the ethos of Sixties which was full of optimism and opportunities. Their trek was the highlight of a two year trip driving a Landrover from Barnsley through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and India to Nepal and back again to UK after visiting Everest Base Camp.

Their story is a fascinating insight into how the Everest region has changed since trekking became popular in this part of the Himalaya. In 1967 there were no commercial trek lodges in Nepal so the group stayed with local families often only paying a small charge covering firewood used for cooking their meals. They started the trek on February 19th from Dolaghat rather than flying into Lukla airport (like most people these days) and it took them sixteen days to reach Kalapatar and Gorakshep (original Base Camp for Everest expeditions). Then twenty seven days later on March 16th they returned back to Kathmandu and they managed to only spend £33 between them for the whole trek!

In 1967 there was only one trekking company in Nepal called Mountain Travel set up by Jimmy Roberts who was known as "the father of trekking in Nepal". However this group decided to organise this trek themselves on a shoestring budget by employing one Sherpa guide in Kathmandu called LP and also one porter called Kaman. This group were pioneers of independent trekking in Himalaya and since this time a large adventure travel industry has developed in Nepal with hundreds of tour operators, an extensive network of lodges and an upgraded runway at Lukla.

This book is made up of diaries written by David, John and Less as well as photos from 1967 and 2010 plus maps and some letters written home. I am sure this book will be of huge interest to people who have recently trekked to Everest Base Camp who will be able to compare their experience to David, John and Les’s story from an earlier trek in Khumbu before the commercialisation effects of modern adventure tourism.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this book please click on this link to our Amazon bookstore

Roland Hunter

The Mountain Company