Climbing the World's highest mountains
By Alan Hinkes
In this book, renowned British mountaineer Alan Hinkes relates his experiences of climbing all 14 of the peaks over 8000m: the world's highest mountains. Alongside stunning photography, he describes his expeditions - many as Alpine-style ascents - capturing the beauty, harshness and danger of these mountains.
To climb one 8000 metre peak is extraordinary. To conquer all 14 is an almost incomprehensible challenge. Only 14 men had ever completed the 8000ers, until 2005, when Alan Hinkes became the first Briton to climb his way into that rarefied club.
This book is the first autobiographical work by Hinkes, and chronicles his expeditions to the Himalaya in Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet, and his climbs; from the first British ascent of Manaslu, to multiple 'Alpine style' ascents and the final test of snow-bound Kangchenjunga. High-altitude climbing is a dangerous business, but Hinkes balances nail-biting moments of avalanches, extreme cold and dealing with the 'Death Zone' with memories of great climbing companions, base-camp communities and the pleasure of a good cup of tea once the climb is done.
As well as being an exceptional mountaineer, Alan Hinkes is also a professional photographer. Taking great pictures at high-altitude is notoriously difficult, given the environmental dangers to both camera and cameraman. But Hinkes has collected together his most outstanding shots which capture the true nature of the world's highest mountains.
'No mountain is worth a life, coming back is a success and the summit is only a bonus.' This philosophy carried Hinkes over one of the harshest landscapes on Earth, and follows him into his book. Above all, Hinkes writes of his love of the mountains; his story is not one of cheating death, but of living life to its fullest, and highest extent.
- Foreword by Brian Blessed, who joined Hinkes on an expedition to Everest. Afterword by Joe Cornish, on the beauty and perils of mountain photography.
- Vivid, uncompromising accounts of Himalayan mountaineering.
- Vignettes of life in the mountains, great climbers and historic ascents of the 8000ers.
- Hardback 'coffee-table' style book, with jaw-dropping pictures accompanying the text.
The Himalaya and Karakoram Mountains
Foreword by Brian Blessed
1 Shisha Pangma
Jerzy Kukuczka & the Polish Climbers
3 Cho Oyu
Summit Flags & Fiona
4 Broad Peak
Chapatti & Chips
The Death Zone
Mallory & Irvine
7 Gasherbrum I
8 Gasherbrum II
Coffee or Tea?
Photography & filming
10 Nanga Parbat
Dealing with Death
Dressed to Survive
The Incident Pit
Shooting the Summits by Joe Cornish
1 The 8000m peaks and their first ascents
2 Alan Hinkes Expeditions
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'High-altitude climbing is a dangerous business, but Hinkes balances nail-biting moments of avalanches, extreme cold and dealing with the 'Death Zone' with memories of great climbing companions, base-camp communities and the pleasure of a good cup of tea once the climb is done. Alan Hinkes, relates his experiences of climbing all 14 of the peaks over 8000m alongside stunning photography.'
Himalaya, Autumn 2013
'Even if you've never clipped a rope through a carabiner or stamped crampons along an icy ridge, 8000 metres is a gripping read. It's an elemental story of achievement and survival, as Hinkes climbs all 14 of the world's 8000m peaks.'
Outdoors Fitness magazine, December 2013
I remember one of the few times I tried a spot of rock climbing. It was on Napes Needle in the Lake District – the climb which actually inspired an entire sport. And while it was Chris Bonington who lowered me down to the ground after I’d done it, it was Alan Hinkes who was free climbing around me, nonchalantly taking photos of me and pointing out where to put my hands and feet as I ascended on what the climbing bods call a “very tight rope”.
I’ve known Alan for over 20 years, and followed many of his 8000 metre peak climbs – indeed, we even met up for a meal in Kathmandu in 1996 as he was about to set off for Everest with Brian Blessed (I’d just finished leading a trek for Doug Scott). It’s taken him a while to produce this account of his ascent of all 14 8,000 metre peaks, but it makes fascinating and very entertaining reading. You don’t have to be a climber to appreciate the humour in his writing – the famous chapatti incident on Nanga Parbat is there, where Alan’s sneeze on some chapatti flour caused him to slip a disc in his back and make UK headlines, and the 1995 Makalu attempt that came unstuck on the trek in to base camp when he slipped off the path and speared his thigh on a branch.
It brings home the point that for every success you have to accept a certain amount of disappointment. But it’s the jaw-dropping, stunning majesty of his photographs, mainly shot on film (remember that?) that really makes the book. It’s something of a departure, too, for publishers Cicerone, better known for their nuts ‘n bolts walking guides. You don’t need to be a mountaineer to appreciate the book, and if you have a coffee table, you’ll certainly want to give pride of place on it to 8000 Metres.
Clive Tully - Camping magazine, December 2013
'I have always been adventurous' are the opening words; a not uncommon boast, but one that Alan Hinkes makes good on. His book is an account of how, over the course of 18 years, he climbed all 14 of the world's 8000 metre high mountains - an achievement that's surely on par with going to the moon.
The 14 ascents required 27 attempts, and each is described here, along with anecdotes garnered from a lifetime of travel. It can seem great fun at times, but these tales of battling mountains are full too, of stories of those who didn't make it back. ' I admire climbers who know their limits and who are able to retreat and survive' writes Hinkes, and there's no suggestion of malice in his words - a successful mountaineer is one who returns safely.
The photographs are as important as the text here, and have as much to say of breathtaking peaks and dizzying heights. Above 8000 metres, there's no emergency service; in the death zone, you're on your own. That Hinkes survived so many of them makes for an absorbing read.
Geographical, December 2013
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Alan Hinkes is the first Briton to climb the world's highest mountains, part of an exclusive club of only 12 people alive who have achieved this feat. He began his mountaineering career whilst at Northallerton Grammar School, North Yorkshire. He progressed to the Alps with ascents of many difficult mountains, including the notorious North Face of the Eiger, eventually graduating to the Himalaya.
Alan currently works as an outdoor equipment technical consultant, writes for magazines such as Trail and lectures on his exploits. He is an accomplished cameraman (filming 11 documentaries), photographer, motivational speaker, environmentalist and mountain guide. He lives in North Yorkshire and enjoys being in the hills, rock climbing and fellwalking. You will regularly see him in the Lake District and Yorkshire tramping the fells and moors or clinging to a rock face.