Since no 8,000 m peak had ever been climbed (this was 3 yrs before Hillary/Tenzing on Everest) nothing was a given including what face to assault and how to actually get there in the first place! Google the 'controversy' surrounding this book if you're interested as it appears Herzog's account of his magnificent summit is suspect.
The narrative suffered for it, unless you are really into rudimentary logistics as a hobby- its important thats its there, it shows the scale of their feat, patience, and tenacity, but its a bit tiresome to read. Even today, in the face of the growing commercialism of Everest, Annapurna remains one of the deadliest mountains, having only been summited around 200 times.
What good is an expedition, if it has to be carried, literally, by slave labor?
Maurice Herzog's team of French mountaineers suffered greatly for claiming Annapurna's summit, but in the end all I could say is, "They just don't build men like they used to." This crew of post-colonialism adventurers bit off more than they could handled, but still managed to swallow while choking.
There is some controversy over whether the climb eventuate the way this book is told, where Herzog does takes a lot of the glory of the expedition. Regardless of how romanticised the story told is, and despite the fact I have read quite a lot of mountain climbing books, I really don't fundamentally understand the personal drive required for climbing.
A large part of me finds it hard to believe such adventures are called a success when the only reason many of the French climbing team is alive is because Sherpas literally carried them down the mountain and then all the way to India (while the white men's digits were literally rotting off). Two of them did provide critical help at Camp IV-V but at a certain point it was up to the backs of the Sherpas to carry these men out. I know they weren't thinking straight - and they knew that as well - but shouldn't such experienced mountaineers realize that living to climb another day is smarter than endangering so many people to be the first at something?
I love any trek where I know there's a tea shop at least every couple of hours, and some place for a hot meal and a dry bed at the end of the day. This book is as good a way as any to get a look.
With such maps and an appalling quality of climbing equipment, Herzog and team made it up to the summit of the mighty Annapurna. The book started with Herzog and team setting off from French Alpine Club. The climbing from one camp to another, setting up a camp, going out for reconnaissance, finding routes, looking for possibilities, all sounded highly inspiring and motivating to a climber like me. At this point, Herzog looked like an elite mountaineer who knew what to do when and how to go about it. In fact, Herzog had made all his fellow climbers sign some papers stating that no one should write their own account about the expedition for a stipulated amount of time. After reading this book, I felt that he had a habit of imposing his opinions on others, highly conceited, inconsiderate towards the safety of his fellow climbers. It was becoming pretty obvious from the analysis of Herzog himself that the weather is uncertain, it will be highly dangerous to carry on climbing that too with little pieces of information they had about climbing Annapurna. But isnt a summit of any mountain just a halfway of the entire expedition? The entire time after coming down to Camp V, Herzog was only interested in his treatment and how he will get down (obviously with the tremendous effort of his team and sherpas). Herzogs only motivation to climb Annapurna was glory. I dont know how much love he had for mountains, for climbing and for himself but glory was the only thing we was concerned with even if it meant to have it at the cost of his and his fellow climbers life. I do not think that any mountain summit is worth giving my life for. No summit/expedition is worth risking my hands and my feet. But if it is already clear that proceeding for the summit means inviting danger and peril to me or my fellow climbers, I will not be able to climb further. We hear reports and news about so many accidents on Everest and other peaks where the climber did not listen to his expedition leader and put his life and his teams life in danger. In this book too, Herzog climbed and acclaimed glory but at what cost? I understand that Herzog has been acclaimed as a pioneer mountaineer but to me he came across as a total jerk! I liked how Herzog explained how he carried on the expedition initially.
Herzog was a French alpinist most famously associated with the conquest of Annapurna in June 1950.