Banff Award for Mountain and Wilderness Literature
The British Sportsbook Award for Outstanding General Sports Writing
The Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature
Finalist for the HW Fisher Biographer's Prize
Everest was not conquered by force of will alone. It required immense planning, research, and preparation. Dr. Griffith Pugh’s role in the first successful ascent of Everest in 1953 by Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay was absolutely pivotal, yet this story has until now remained untold. As the expedition’s physiological consultant, Pugh designed almost every aspect of the survival strategy for the expedition, the acclimatisation programme, the oxygen- and fluid-intake regime, the diet, the clothing and the high altitude boots. A spirit of gentleman-amateurism had prevailed previously and this new scientific professionalism ensured the success of the expedition and opened the way for a stunning stream of mountaineering successes.
Within five years climbers had scaled nearly all of the world’s highest peaks in relative safety. Dr. Pugh became known as one of the fathers of altitude medicine, saving the lives of several members of Hillary’s expedition to Mount Makalu, and pioneering safety techniques for mountaineers and hill walkers.
This is also the story of Griffith Pugh, the man, a troubled and eccentric person who had difficulties in sustaining personal relationships in both his personal and professional lives. His daughter and author of this biography, Harriet Tuckey, did not discover the extent of her father’s role in the success of the climb until he was honored late in life at the Royal Geographical Society. His story shines a necessary and fascinating light on one of mankind's greatest achievments.