I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Distant Snows a book by John Harding reviewed by Stevie Haston.

Being lucky with books, is almost as difficult as being lucky with women. I have been lucky in the last month, but to find the book Distant Snows, I feel grateful indeed. It is a book that spans 60 years of climbing, skiing, and traveling, it is a book that would normally span a few peoples lives, but John Harding has quietly, simply plodded, or slid along on his skies, accumulating a fascinating life. 

 In the writing of this book John in some ways has he has eclipsed himself, and I am in danger of tying my tongue in knots trying to give him fancy compliments!

Distant Snows is a slow well considered book, it's a dipping book, and a book that will easily lead you on to other books, and perhaps other peoples journeys. John is a former president of the Alpine Club, and a president of the Alpine Club, and Eagle Ski Clubs. His other books include Pyrenean High Route, which was short listed for the Boardman Prize, and his probably better book Roads to Nowhere, which records his political service in South Arabia. You may remember me recommending A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, well this book touches that one, when Harding meets Newby's mountaineering partner Hugh Carless at an Embassy function somewhere in the East! In truth I'ave always loved A Short Walk in the H.K. but I some how feel that Distant Snows is better. It is certainly better in that there is more adventure, Distant snows describes many exhibitions to wonderfully diverse regions of the world, not just one short walk. 

Maps, there are a few here we have the areas visited and described.

There is also a depth to the descriptions of the countries visited as you might expect, but would seldom receive from a member of Hardings profession. It is refreshing to see some politics wrapping around mountain travel, these often times, war torn, or troubled areas deserve a bit of background. I love this book and would unreservedly recommend it except for its slightly behind the cutting edge aspect of its ascents. But that is also a reason to recommend it, is it not? The book is a fantastic reminder that you can can have great adventures with out being a  top flight, up to the moment Tiger. Hardings love of ski touring is another seldom seen side to mountains, but as many real mountaineers knows, a pair of sliding boards is the way to go in some areas, and leads to much pleasure. Some of these expeditions are now impossible to duplicate, so our only way of visiting these areas is through this book. If this review doesn't seem full of superlatives, it is no reason not to like this book the less, superlatives don't trump Harding's very interesting passion, which he some how sandwiched in a professional and family life, he did all these journeys in his holidays! The style of the book is at once subdued, but exciting, and the authors humour comes through very well, even under duress-a handy trick for an expedition man, as well as a political administrator. Harding went to Trinity College, and ended up as a solicitor in the City, none of these things should put you off, indeed I found the man charming, and am envious of his intelligence, and adventures. Long live books like this.