Norton of Everest, the biography written by Hugh Norton, with a foreword by Wade Davis, and published by Vertebrate Publishing, is a very good read.
Why is it a good read? Well because it is a life rather than a collection of scurfy climbs, because it is of a time gone by, and now with the benefit of hindsight we can see how monumental it was for this, "not an every day" man, to break almost into the stratosphere, all those years ago.
What are we talking about, these far off times are indeed far off when girls are now around 9a + rock climbing grade, and women have broken Nortons altitude record? Well the world in 1924 was at once a smaller place, and an infinitely more magical place, but possibly its brutality was also much more evident even to the people of the Western world.
Wade Davis does a brilliant foreword on Norton for the book, and clearly I can't compete with his glowing words, what I can do is give a slightly different view. My sideways viewpoint is that, while I always adored this mans mountaineering achievement, I was always put off by his his military status. As a life long pacifist I wasn't keen to discover his brutish military side, or indeed his value to the Great British Empire. It was as you might guess, a very pleasant surprise to find Norton was one of the most humane of men, showing incredible sympathy, and genuine concerns for people from every walk of life, and every country. His rescue of Porters from the North Col despite probably recking the chances of the expedition, was done naturally without a seconds thought. As Edward Shebbeare said it "may have cost us the mountain".
When you have stared into the couloir that is named after Norton, from a distance in time, you can only but admire his fortitude, and strength. That his altitude record lasted until 1978 when Habeler and Messner climber Everest without Oxygen is amazing. Norton was alone, he made his own tracks, he had primitive equipment and he didn't have sherpas, and oxygen cylinders lying around, and by Jove he nearly pulled it off!