RESERVED - Mountains of Tartary - Eric Shipton 1951 - Hodder and Stoughton, London - First Edition ‘Beyond and above that purple shadow, near or infinitely far I could not tell, stood the great ice-mountains: the rounded dome of Kungar, the twin spires of Chakragil, the granite peaks of Bostan Trek, and scores more unnamed...’

During the Second World War Shipton was appointed HM Consul at Kashgar in western China from 1940 to 1942. This handsomely bound first edition is Shipton’s account of his mountaineering expeditions and exploration of Muztagh Ata, Chakragil, and Bogdo Ola, during that time, and after the War.

Illustrated with 23 black and white photographs taken by the author.
  From a review of the book by ‘HMS Warspite’ -
‘1950's "Mountains of Tartary" is Eric Shipton's astonishing and entertaining account of his time as British Consul at Kashgar in the remote and mountainous Chinese Province of Sinkiang during and immediately after World War Two. Shipton was a first-rate climber and explorer seconded to diplomatic duties; his account reads like background for an Indiana Jones movie.

Sinkiang in the 1940's was so remote that travel from India by horse and camel tooks weeks over a series of high passes and high desert plateaus. The alternate route through Persia and the Soviet Union involved a series of train rides and the gauntlet of Soviet officialdom. Sinkiang Province itself was contested ground between a distant Chinese government, a much closer and aggressive Soviet government, and various local factions, warlords and bandits. Shipton's wry sense of humor allows him to detach from the confusing politics to provide a superb travelogue of a stunning landscape then imperfectly explored.

Shipton, a veteran of expeditions into the Karakoram and the Himalayas, finds much to enjoy in Sinkiang when he can slip away from his job. Weekend allowed Shipton, his marvelously brave wife, and visiting climbing partner Bill Tilman to mount impromptu expeditions into an incredible high altitude landscape, filled with unclimbed 20,000 foot peaks, glaciers, deep valleys, and rare wildlife. The lack of organized support and the need to avoid official scutiny caused Shipton and Tilman to stretch their luck on several shoestring attempts on unclimbed peaks. One of the highlights of these journeys was a trip to the rugged Tushuk Tagh range in search of a huge natural arch.

"Mountains of Tartary" is highly recommended as a forgotten classic of travel and exploration by an experienced traveler and gifted writer.’.


Eric Shipton (1907-1977) was a British mountaineer and leading mountain explorer of the 20th century. He took part in five Everest expeditions, though he is best known for his private light-weight expeditions, many of them undertaken with fellow explorer, Harold William Tillman. In later years he spent much of his time exploring and climbing in Patagonia and Terra del Fuego.

References: Neate,
Mountaineering and its Literature 138.
Octavo pp. [4] 224 [4]
  Smartly bound in recent half green calf over green cloth, gilt titles to spine, map endpapers.   Condition: Fine   Ref: 107232   Price: HK$ 2,500