The Sherpas were not born climbers. When the British went to Everest in 1921, they hired porters. Yet by 1953 these porters had become the famous "Tigers of the Snow". This book describes the decisive moment in the transformation of "coolies" (porters and labourers) into the Sherpas as climbing legends: the German expedition to Nanga Parbat in 1934. During that disastrous climb, the Europeans unroped from their inexperienced porters and fled to safety leaving them to stay on the mountain and help each other as best they could. After this tragedy the Sherpas, with their keen understanding of and respect for the mountains as well as their instinct to save lives, knew they were the most responsible men on the mountains. The book is a compelling narrative of a climb gone wrong, set against the mountaineering history of the early 20th century and the haunting background of German politics in the 1930s.
Jonathan Neale is the author of two non-fiction books and one novel. He has had ten plays produced in Britain in the last 15 years and has a PhD in social history. He speaks some Nepali and a little Sherpa.