We are all familiar with Shackleton, Mallory and Livingstone, but the great female explorers are largely unknown. Women like Freya Stark, Gertrude Bell and Ella Maillart were just as resourceful, eccentric and adventurous. Tall tales and high adventure from the world's greatest female travelers.
Intrepid stories from Female travellers that will inspire your next trip abroadThe Times
How to Climb Mont Blanc in a Skirt is serious and informative, yet fun, too.The Independent
It will entertain you as much as it will motivate you to live life on the edgeBust
Ask someone to describe a typical explorer and they will usually have a pretty good idea. Explorers have lined faces, scraggy beads , skin that has been punished by the wind and the sun. Sometimes they werea furs, sometimes khaki. They either smile at the camera in triumph or they stare with with gritty determination. And they are always men.
Or are they?
Who found the lost city of Cana?
Who defied both British border patrols and the Tibetan authorities to travel to the for bidden city of Lhasa in 1924?
Who was first to the top of Huascaran?
Who held the record for the fastest flight from Britain to Australia for 44 years?
How to Climb Mont Blanc in a skirt tells the amazing tales of the great female explorers and travelers.
Women like Freya Stark who found the lost city of Cana, was one of the greatest Orientalists of her day and who had a unique approach to travel which mixed extreme roughing it with an attention to creature comforts which few men matched. Unlike the famous male desert explorers such as Wilfred Thesiger she felt no compunction to prove how tough she was by living like a Bedouin. If a bed and a bath was on offer she gladly accepted, but if she had to sleep out in the open she did so without too much ado.
Or Alexandra David-Neel, the French opera singer turned mystic whose undercover expedition to Lhasa in 1924 astounded the world. She spent weeks, dressed in rags, blackening her face with the grease from the uderside of her cooking pot, in order to pass herself off as a Tibetan peasant. Just in case she was rumbled, she packed an automatic pistol under her dress.
Or Annie Smith Peck, the American mountaineer who made attempt after attempt on Huascaran in Peru, and finally reached the top in 1908 sporting a woolen mask with a mustache painted on it, only to become embroiled in a bitter row with a fellow American Fanny Bullock Workman, over the true height of the mountain.
How to Climb Mont Blanc in a Skirt both reviews the achievements of the great women explorers and offers tips and advice on what to do in numerous situations: how to use a Hoopoe bird to ward off bullets, how best to cook locusts and what to do when the loo paper runs out in the middle of a glacier. Fun, informative and provocative, it compares the complimentary exploits of a series of male and female explorers and asks how gender differences manifest themselves in the field.
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