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Bill Nye’s top 10 adventure books

Bill Nye's top 10 adventure books
Bill Nye from Adventure Books in Oamaru selects his favourite adventure books

Blank on the Map, Eric Shipton

Shipton and Bill Tilman lead a team exploring and mapping unknown parts of the Karakoram. This is a descriptive book with which to enjoy depths of travel and discovery. 

Endurance, Alfred Lansing

The best-written story of the epic tale of courage and survival after Shackleton’s ship was crushed in the ice on Antarctica. It’s one of the most enthralling stories in the history of polar exploration.

Mostly Mischief, H.W Tilman

Bill Tilman was one of the 20th century’s greatest explorers. After a long career in mountain travel, he embarked on sailing journeys to islands at high latitudes north and south, and made a number of first ascents. This book covers four major expeditions replete with close-calls and near disasters. His dry wit and exemplary British humour is always a companion in his stories.

Annapurna: First Conquest of an 8000m Peak, Maurice Herzog

In 1950, none of the 14, 8000m peaks had been climbed. Maurice Herzog and other members of the French Alpine Club had resolved to try. Their goal was the 8091m Annapurna. An extraordinary account of a dramatic and heroic climb, there is a harrowing aftermath and an unforgettable ending. Herzog’s riveting narrative is one of the great mountain-adventure stories of all time.

Nanda Devi: Exploration and Ascent, Eric Shipton

Truly one of the finest adventure stories ever written. Shipton and Bill Tilman explored unmapped areas of the Himalaya with daring, and gusto and were the very first to overcome extreme obstacles and enter the sacred sanctuary of Nanda Devi. It is beautifully written in Shipton’s reflective style.

 The Man Who Walked Through Time, Colin Fletcher

The first (and still the only) walk through the Grand Canyon from end to end. Fletcher conveys the focused competence required of solo backpacking and camping, as well as the commitment it takes to make it through this amazing challenge. His writing carries with it an increased perception that accompanies his solitary and spiritual interaction with nature, which builds throughout the journey. Contemplative and inspiring.

Touching the Void, Joe Simpson

Winner of the Boardman‑Tasker award for mountaineering literature in 1988, the book tells of an accident in the Peruvian Andes which led to Simpson’s friend, Simon Yates, being forced to cut the rope. This book grabs a compulsion to finish the story. Was it courage, determination, persistence, strong will, or plain good luck? Sometimes we don’t really know what each of us is capable of – perhaps until thrown into a crisis of survival.

The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen

In this beautifully written book, the author recounts a journey to find the snow leopard with famed field biologist George Schaller. They set out walking from Pokhara, hoping to reach the Crystal Mountain in the land of Dolpo, on the Tibetan Plateau in western Nepal. Winner of the National Book Award for Non-Fiction, this search for the elusive mammal becomes, through his writing, a Zen-inspired reflection on his wife’s death and a search for his own meaning on the Crystal Mountain.

No Picnic on Mt Kenya, Felice Benuzzi

An all-time climbing classics. Breaking out of a POW camp in Kenya during WWII, Italian climber Benuzzi and companions accomplished an unusual feat. They used prison-made gear and a map from a bully-beef can label, climbed Mt Kenya, then broke back in, returning to camp! A well-told story and a great read. One admires their ingenuity and sense of humour.

Ice Bird, David Lewis

Dismasted and capsized, over 3,500 miles from help, Ice Bird remains one of the great true sea stories of the 20th century. It is also a tale of incredible endurance, fortitude, luck and skill, as Lewis fights for his life in freezing, treacherous Antarctic waters.

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