The White Ladder: Triumph and Tragedy at the Dawn of Mountaineering

Pre-Order   Ships 5 September 2024


The true story of the thrill-seekers, map-makers, soldiers, occultists, artists and porters who paved the way for modern mountaineering.

‘A beautifully written and sure-footed history of mountaineering “before Everest”, full of wonderful stories and spanning continents and centuries. A splendid debut.’ Sir Ranulph Fiennes, author of Shackleton

Beautiful, remote and dangerous – for generations we have looked to the mountains in awe. Yet, for most, that is where the fascination ends. For a rare few, however, the allure of the peaks proved irresistible.

There are the devout Incan priests who, scaling the Andes’ icy slopes to pay tribute to each mountain’s ‘Great Lord’, travelled higher than any European would for centuries. The Gurkha riflemen who joined their commanders in canvassing the Karakoram, admiring the distant summits of Broad Peak and K2 with gleeful anticipation. The tweed-clad mountaineers who made the first serious assaults on Everest, hauling yards upon yards of battered rope through the cold.

Tracing the world altitude record from the ashy slopes of the sacred volcano Llullaillaco to the icy crags and crevasses of the Karakoram, Daniel Light takes a panoramic journey through the storied history of mountaineering before Everest. Joining a cast of colourful characters, The White Ladder offers an ode to mountains’ capacity to enthral, and the fundamental human drive to climb higher and higher.


'Thrilling... Daniel Light delivers stories that are poetic, spiritual and astonishing in their courage and drive.' Sonia Purnell, author of A Woman of No Importance

‘Daniel Light guides the reader through a mountain-scape that stretches from the Alps to the Himalaya... with the sure footing of a serious student of climbing history, and the élan of a skilled storyteller. This is a book to curl up with on a cold dark night in a comfortable armchair before a bright fire.’ Maurice Isserman, co-author of Fallen Giants

‘Wonderful… a massive story with an enormous cast of characters, among them some of the most compelling figures of mountaineering history.’ Wade Davis, author of Into the Silence

Product Details

£25.00  £23.75
Oneworld Publications
Publish Date

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