The dark side of the Himalayas

How best to write a book about the Himalayas when Mount Everest has been reduced to just another tick-off on the bucket lists of the wealthy? We all remember the pictures of adventurous parka-clad westerners queuing up to scale the summit in 2019. The world’s most inaccessible and inhospitable areas have now become the target of an extreme form of charter tourism. Not even the outbreak of Covid stopped people forking out more than $10,000 to join the queue. In High, the Norwegian writer and social anthropologist Erika Fatland traverses the mountain range, straying from the well-trodden path of privileged tourism onto the Silk Road less travelled. It is not,

Finally, the Sherpas are heroes of their own story

John Keay has for many years been a key historian and prolific contributor to the romance attaching to the highest mountains on Earth. His latest book is described as a summation of that lifetime’s contribution, offering an overview of the Himālaya – the Sanskrit version (‘Abode of Snow’) that Keay bids us use – both as a physical place and as a realm of intellectual inquiry. The book opens with a bang. Its first theme is the astonishing mountain-making forces that created the region. Specifically, Keay gives us the prolonged intellectual skirmishes among geologists as they tried to piece together the formative processes. The one who unpicked their genesis was