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Starlight and Storm (Modern Library Exploration) Paperback – September 7, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Exploration
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (September 7, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375755063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375755064
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

From the 1920s to the 1950s, the race was on in Europe to score first ascents of the most formidable routes in the Alps and Dolomites. Buoyed by the advent of artificial climbing techniques (primarily the use of pitons), teams from France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Poland scaled the north faces of the Eiger, the Drus, the Matterhorn, the Grandes Jorasses, and other hallowed peaks, often pooling resources to obtain previously unimaginable success (and often tragedy), while the world below was ravaged by two brutal world wars. Noted French climbing guide Gaston Rébuffat lived at the center of this crucial era in mountaineering history. Starlight and Storm, first published in French in 1954 as Étoiles et Tempêtes, is his personal account of a rugged and glorious time before Gore-Tex, when men, soaked and chilled to the bone, sang to keep each other from falling asleep (forever) during exposed bivouacs in sub-zero degree snowstorms. Rébuffat's love of the climber's life is evident with each turn of the page. Where contemporary authors like Jon Krakauer, who provides this reissue's foreword, describe climbing in terms of nightmares and inner struggles, Rébuffat moves from one harrowing ascent to the next with uncommon gaiety and charm. "We have the instinct for it, the love of rocks and the necessary skill," he writes of time spent on the Drus, "so that we can climb without being worried by technical problems. Thus the whole climb was pure joy, for, while superficially watching over the actual ascent, the spirit had leisure to wander happily." The mysterious joy and lure of traversing earth's high places are expressed with a boyish innocence lost on much of today's climbing culture, making Starlight and Storm an enjoyable read, probably unlike any mountaineering journal you have ever encountered. --Kristopher Kaiyala

From Library Journal

The Modern Library is going straight to the top to launch its new "Exploration" series with this volume by R?buffat, a legendary mountaineering guide. Published in the 1950s, this recounts his numerous adventures scaling nature's greatest heights of ice and rock. Though you could get a nosebleed just reading this book, R?buffat allows the reader to experience adventures they otherwise could only dream about.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book belongs on the shelf of anyone who collects climbing literature. Beautifully written (and/or beautifully translated), it presents a romantic, joyous view of climbing which may seem foreign to many modern climbers. The material on Alpine expeditions is very similar to that found in the works of Diemberger and Buhl, so it probably isn't worth buying the book for those alone; Rebuffat skips over Annapurna, for reasons which become clear when you read the introduction. _Starlight and Storm_ does, however, have an added bonus in a wonderful essay on climbing and danger, included in the section on technique. Overall, a book worth having.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a great book, one of the classics. However, I do agree with the reviewer who complains that there isn't enough stuff about the actual climbing. Not only did Rebuffat do many famous ascents, but he also climbed with the greatest French climbers of his generation, most notably fellow Annapurna expedition members Louis Lachenal and Lionel Terray -- and he basically never mentions them. It is as if Gaston was too humble, and thought no one would be interested -- but we are, we are!
Anyone who enjoys this book needs to run not walk to find Lionel Terray's "Conquistadors of the Useless" which is very sadly out of print in English (although still a mainstay of French climbing literature). Not only do you get great stories of Gaston himself from Terray (including their ill-starred and hysterically funny attempt to run a farm together), but you also get all the blow by blow descriptions you could ever want of the big climbs -- the Walker, the Eiger, etc, -- as done by the legendary Lachenal-Terray rope.
Also, look out for "True Summit" by David Roberts, a new history of the Annapurna expedition which is due to be released later this Spring. And if you read French, try the two hot books in French climbing circles these days: Rebuffat's recently published biography and Louis Lachenal's memoirs ("Carnets du Vertige")
... not to mention Rebuffat's several other books and, yes, even movies!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 31, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lyrically written, the author, Gaston Rebuffat, one of the world's climbing greats, expresses such joy for mountaineering that it is infectious. No climbing enthusiast's library should be without this book. The photograph of Rebuffat which graces the cover of this book is alone worth the price of the book.

Rebuffat is positively poetic in his description of various climbs. The reader almost feels as if one were as one with the mountain. A purist, the author climbed not for the glory of it, but for the sheer joy of the brotherhood of the rope. In these days, where climbing is often just a reason for a media event, the author's approach is refreshing, indeed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Summiteer on February 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book changed and energized my life. I picked up Gaston's Starlight and Storm from a used book bin while wandering downtown in DC one night when I was 18 years old. I read it a dozen times that year. And I have been climbing mountains with passion ever since. The book and the man changed my life. A year after reading this, I began to climb, initially at Seneca Rock in West Virginia. Then I moved abroad ultimately climbing in Chamonix over a dozen seasons, all over the UK and Western Europe from the Eiger to the Marmolata, and all over the US for some 50 years now. I've bought and reread all of Gaston's books. I've got pictures of Chamonix with Gaston as the main figure photographed by Pierre Tairraz, the photographer for all his books, in collages on most of the walls in my home. They have been up or years and I'm thought of as a curator of mountain photos. 30 years ago, I met Gaston with his pipe in his mouth looking out over the rising clouds from the Auguille du Midi Hut above Chamonix (just like a photo in this book) and had an opportunity to tell him that Starlight and Storm and the vision he shared of climbing in it had gripped me to the core and changed me while a wandering boy to a life-long world-wide climber and mountaineer...and I thanked him. He was gracious and happy that I had found my love of climbing...just like you would expect. My visit on that occassion was to climb his own route on the Midi. Well, it is later now in time, I've slowly become 66 years old, now living in the mountains of Colorado, but I still have this book on my shelf, so worn, so moving, so brilliant an stirring...the comradeship of the rope ..my friend, my companion, my inspiration. The story of my life, actually. Bon voyage, Gaston. Thanks again for your inspiration.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anton on February 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Starlight and Storm" is one of these rare examples of an outstanding climber who can also write engagingly and with poetic verve!
Rebuffat is unquestionably one of the outstanding climbers of the early post WW II mountaineering in Europe and perhaps the most outstanding French climber of the period. His achievements (first French climb of the Walker Spur of the Grand Jorasses; first French Climb of the north face of Eiger, member of the Anapurna expedition) speak for themselves.
What also sets apart Rebuffat from many others (many climbers write books to underwrite financially their future expeditions or to underscore their achievements) is his joyful, honest and inspired writing. Rebuffat has a real talent to convey beautifully his emotions and leads us masterfully along his fascinating climbs.
This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in mountaineering, and I commend John Krakauer for including it in the new "Exploration" series!
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