As I get ready for my bicycle trip around the world, it has occurred to me that a big bike tour is something like a big mountain climb: you have to plan routes, gather equipment and supplies and tune up your body for the big push. My own preparations got me to thinking about one of my favorite books, The Conquest of Everest, by Sir John Hunt.
The copy I have is a first edition signed by Sir Edmund himself and is one of the few cherished possessions I plan to keep.
The Conquest of Everest is not unlike many other mountain climbing books. In places it's pretty dry, but the chapter on the final summit ascent, written by Hillary, is more than worth wading through all the stuff leading up to it.
As you probably know, the first ascent of Everest happened in 1953 and in those days, climbing equipment was pretty crude. Oxygen systems were unreliable and the packs were heavy and unweildy. Plus, these guys were venturing into unknown territory. In terms of preparation, boldness and risk the first ascent of Everest was something akin to landing on the moon in 1969.
All in all, if you like adventure stories and are at all interested in climbing and history, The Conquest of Everest is a must read.