First edition, signed by the author ‘E.P. Hillary’ on the half-title. The autobiographical High Adventure was Hillary’s first book and was published shortly after his successful ascent of Everest in 1953. The first chapter is dedicated to the author’s early life and first experiences of mountaineering, and the remaining chapters describe his participation in Eric Shipton’s 1951 Everest Reconnaissance Expedition and the reconnaissance of Cho Oyu in 1952; the Swiss Everest expedition of 1952; and the successful 1953 expedition (chapters seven to twelve).
The Geographical Journal’s reviewer wrote that, ‘Hillary goes at a fair speed, almost as fast as his climbing pace, through the first stages of the 1953 journey; lingering, however, at the icefall, which was in a sense a personal triumph. The speed of the narrative has the disadvantage that there is little room for pen-portraits of people or for scenic reflections, but the corresponding advantage, as we go higher, that he is able to give in increasing measure what the reader most wants from this book, the thoughts and actions and sensations of Edmund Hillary on and near the top of that mountain. The story works to its climax, certainly to its most absorbing chapter. I had thought that it would be impossible to improve on his account in “The Ascent [of Everest]”; but there is here a wealth of unsuspected detail, and a tribute to Tenzing, which must make the Great Day sparkle in imagination with new colours’ (121 (1955), p. 521).