In the seventies and eighties, Dietlinde and Hermann Warth have been living and working in Nepal for some years, where Hermann headed the German Volunteer Service. The authors are also enthusiastic trekkers and mountaineers. They have hiked and trekked many thousands of kilometres through the Nepalese countryside. One of their mountaineering highpoints was the successful International Makalu Expedition 1978, a venture which aimed both in style and method at a certain change in the way expeditions were conceived and conducted then. To a quite remarkable degree it proved possible to integrate the expedition directly into the social framework of Nepal : the Sherpa involved were full-fledged members of the expedition right from the start and the team lived only on foodstuff produced in the country. At no time did the expedition resemble a moving island of Western civilization, as it is so often the case among mountaineering ventures in Nepal.
They achieved splendid success : all seven mountaineers were able to reach the summit of Makalu-which is ranked among the more difficult peaks above 8000 metres - without the use of high-altitude porters. The present book is an account of the course of this 'alternative-style expedition'. In addition, it provides a brief introduction to the history (up to and including 1978) of reconnaissance and climbing of the fifth highest mountain on our planet.
It is hoped the reader will both enjoy and profit from the rich human encounters the authors describe prior and during the expedition, thus participating via the written word in what was indeed a highly successful attempt at forging a bridge of understanding and intense shared experience between Nepalis and representatives of a Western culture.
The book in its German original was awarded the coveted Book Price (joint 1st Prize) of the German Alpine Club in 1980.