Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Book Review: The Summit Prince of Braga by Mark Horrell

The Annapurna Circuit was enjoying a record year, with more tourists than ever before. In the big tourist lodges in Manang, trekkers were having to sleep on the floor.

Slightly to the north of the Marsyangdi Valley just off the bustling tourist trail, a narrow gorge guarded by sheer cliffs hundreds of feet high leads to a hidden valley high on the Tibetan plateau, a region remote enough for Khampa guerillas to use it as a hideout when they were fighting Chinese Communists in the 1970s.

This is the Naar Phu valley, a land of mediaeval villages hewn into rock, isolated Buddhist monasteries and snow-capped mountains. It's an area once closed to tourists, but now open to explore for those with restricted permits.

It's a place of surprising colour which Mark Horrell was privileged to explore, but it wasn't the only highlight of a remarkable trek, which saw one of the best views the Himalayas have to offer, a knife-edge summit, and the bleak and lonely Tilicho Lake, reputedly the highest lake in the world. Oh, and some crazy horse racing. There were so many highlights; all he needed was someone to show him a way through it all.

The Summit Prince of Braga is his travel diary from a journey through a hidden part of Nepal's Annapurnas, and will appeal to any lover of trekking and climbing in the Nepal Himalayas, or of mountain literature in general. The book includes many of the author's photographs from his journey.

My Review:
A trek through the trails of Annapurna with Mark Horrell and his tour group and their own unique take on things.

Conversation on the trip is amusing, starting with a discussion about whether or not the Chinese really got the Olympic flame to the top of Everest as they claim to have done. The other Mark tells a story about his Everest trip where he passed an older man in the Icefall who seemed to be struggling and he helpfully commented 'Alright mate, you're looking a bit f*****!', unaware that it was actually Ranulph Fiennes! How embarrassing that would be! Kind of like telling Edmund Hillary 'You'll never get up there'...I was also interested that a member of Chris Bonington's Annapurna team in 1970 claims to have encountered a Yeti. I want to read more about that as the whole Bigfoot thing fascinates me!

The scenery on this trip sounds amazing. The author is very vivid in his desciptions of the trip complete with photographs. Climbing peaks, visiting the highest lake in the world and having the beauty of the Annapurna range to look at. It sounds wonderful! I liked the easygoing relationship that the author has with his sherpa team on these trips and the laughs they all semm to have, including the local horse racing event. It does make you want to go on these trips and experience it for yourself.

I would love to see these travel diaries in a series of paperback volumes so I can really appreciate the beautiful photographs instead of having tiny black and white pictures on my Kindle.  

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