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Starlight and Storm (Modern Library Exploration) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 7. September 1999

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From the 1920s to the 1950s, the race was on in Europe to score first ascents of the most formidable routes in the Alps and Dolomites. Buoyed by the advent of artificial climbing techniques (primarily the use of pitons), teams from France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Poland scaled the north faces of the Eiger, the Drus, the Matterhorn, the Grandes Jorasses, and other hallowed peaks, often pooling resources to obtain previously unimaginable success (and often tragedy), while the world below was ravaged by two brutal world wars. Noted French climbing guide Gaston Rébuffat lived at the center of this crucial era in mountaineering history. Starlight and Storm, first published in French in 1954 as Étoiles et Tempêtes, is his personal account of a rugged and glorious time before Gore-Tex, when men, soaked and chilled to the bone, sang to keep each other from falling asleep (forever) during exposed bivouacs in sub-zero degree snowstorms. Rébuffat's love of the climber's life is evident with each turn of the page. Where contemporary authors like Jon Krakauer, who provides this reissue's foreword, describe climbing in terms of nightmares and inner struggles, Rébuffat moves from one harrowing ascent to the next with uncommon gaiety and charm. "We have the instinct for it, the love of rocks and the necessary skill," he writes of time spent on the Drus, "so that we can climb without being worried by technical problems. Thus the whole climb was pure joy, for, while superficially watching over the actual ascent, the spirit had leisure to wander happily." The mysterious joy and lure of traversing earth's high places are expressed with a boyish innocence lost on much of today's climbing culture, making Starlight and Storm an enjoyable read, probably unlike any mountaineering journal you have ever encountered. --Kristopher Kaiyala

Pressestimmen

Known for his lyrical writing and his ability to convey not only the dangers of mountaineering but the pure exaltation of the climb, Gaston Rébuffat is among the most well-known and revered Alpinists of all time. He rose to international prominence in 1950 as one of the four principal stalwarts in the first ascent of Annapurna, the highest mountain climbed at that time. Yet his finest feat as a mountaineer was to be the first man to climb all six of the legendary great north faces of the Alps--the Grandes Jorasses, the Piz Badile, the Dru, the Matterhorn, the Cima Grande di Lava-redo, and the Eiger.

With this elegant book, first published in 1954, Rébuffat transformed mountain writing. His insistence on seeing a climb as an act of harmonious communion with the mountain, not a battle waged against it, seemed radical at the time, though Rébuffat's aesthetic has since won the day. Through storms, avalanches, rock fall, unplanned bivouacs, and even the deaths of companions, we follow the Chamonix guide to the altar of his communion, on dark, icy walls that struck terror into the hearts of Europe's finest mountaineers. Nor are these deft narratives mere recitations of dangers faced and obstacles overcome, for Rébuffat pays as keen attention to the joys of comradeship won on these faces as he does to the climbs themselves. In our own day of corporate sponsorships, online expeditions, and eco-vacations, the purity of Rébuffat's vision of the Alps as (in the epithet of the title of another of his books) an "enchanted garden" shines forth in prose as fresh and stylish as any ever lavished on mountaineering.

Gaston Rébuffat was born on May 7, 1921, in Marseilles, France. He was a recipient of France's prestigious Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur. He died in Paris on May 31, 1985.

Jon Krakauer is the author of Into Thin Air, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Into the Wild. His work has appeared in many magazines, including Outside, Smithsonian, and National Geographic. He chose the books in the Modern Library Exploration series for their literary merit and historical significance--and because he found them such a pleasure to read.

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Von Ein Kunde am 26. März 2000
Format: Taschenbuch
In short this is a great book. I am glad to see how humble a climber Gaston is during a time when rivals were few and far between. I wish today's climbers could write about what climbing is about, friendships and the mountains, and not about how hard they climb and how they conquered over all. Good reading.
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Von Ein Kunde am 20. April 2000
Format: Taschenbuch
This is a great book, one of the classics. However, I do agree with the reviewer who complains that there isn't enough stuff about the actual climbing. Not only did Rebuffat do many famous ascents, but he also climbed with the greatest French climbers of his generation, most notably fellow Annapurna expedition members Louis Lachenal and Lionel Terray -- and he basically never mentions them. It is as if Gaston was too humble, and thought no one would be interested -- but we are, we are!
Anyone who enjoys this book needs to run not walk to find Lionel Terray's "Conquistadors of the Useless" which is very sadly out of print in English (although still a mainstay of French climbing literature). Not only do you get great stories of Gaston himself from Terray (including their ill-starred and hysterically funny attempt to run a farm together), but you also get all the blow by blow descriptions you could ever want of the big climbs -- the Walker, the Eiger, etc, -- as done by the legendary Lachenal-Terray rope.
Also, look out for "True Summit" by David Roberts, a new history of the Annapurna expedition which is due to be released later this Spring. And if you read French, try the two hot books in French climbing circles these days: Rebuffat's recently published biography and Louis Lachenal's memoirs ("Carnets du Vertige")
... not to mention Rebuffat's several other books and, yes, even movies!
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Format: Taschenbuch
Gaston Rebuffat is clearly a very nice guy, and much of the glory of this book is how clearly that shows through. But what doesn't shine nearly so much is his discussion of the climbs themselves. There is little interest in how the various climbs are achieved, in the technical nature of the accomplishments, or even the excitement of the climbs themselves. Instead, we get alot of stuff about the brotherhood of the hills, and the sort of touchy-feely love of the mountains which in the 1950s was probably much less annoying than it is now. Despite this, Rebuffat's book is still a classic, if only because he was the first climber in so many cases to put us right on the mountain with him. I would recommend his former climbing partner Maurice Herzog's Annapurna before this one, but still feel that Rebuffat's Starlight and Storm is a more than amiable companion.
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Format: Taschenbuch
Lyrically written, the author, Gaston Rebuffat, one of the world's climbing greats, expresses such joy for mountaineering that it is infectious. No climbing enthusiast's library should be without this book. The photograph of Rebuffat which graces the cover of this book is alone worth the price of the book.
Rebuffat is positively poetic in his description of various climbs. The reader almost feels as if one were one with the mountain. A purist, the author climbed not for the glory of it, but for the sheer joy of the brotherhood of the rope. In these days, where climbing is often just a reason for a media event, the author's approach is refreshing, indeed.
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Von Ein Kunde am 20. September 1999
Format: Taschenbuch
This book belongs on the shelf of anyone who collects climbing literature. Beautifully written (and/or beautifully translated), it presents a romantic, joyous view of climbing which may seem foreign to many modern climbers. The material on Alpine expeditions is very similar to that found in the works of Diemberger and Buhl, so it probably isn't worth buying the book for those alone; Rebuffat skips over Annapurna, for reasons which become clear when you read the introduction. _Starlight and Storm_ does, however, have an added bonus in a wonderful essay on climbing and danger, included in the section on technique. Overall, a book worth having.
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