The Ascent of Rum Doodle

The Ascent of Rum Doodle


First published in 1956, “The Ascent of Rum Doodle” quickly became a mountaineering classic. As an outrageously funny spoof about the ascent of a peak in the Himalayas, many thought it was inspired by the 1953 conquest of Everest. But Bowman had drawn on the flavor and tone of earlier adventures, of Bill Tilman and his 1937 account of the Nandi Devi expedition. The book’s central and unforgettable character, Binder, is one of the finest creations in comic literature.

(Summary and cover courtesy of


This book was very funny on a variety of levels.  As a parody on mountaineering, the book reads like a sitcom (without the laugh track), but there are also some very subtle aspects to the book as well.   I particularly liked the route finding and porters who knew better than anyone else on the team.  I’d recommend reading the foreword at the end as I felt it had some spoilers included in it.

This is a book I’ve seen recommended by “Outside Magazine” and the “Best of Mountaineering / Travel” lists so I’m glad I had the chance to finally catch up on it.  I’d highly recommend this one to anyone who is a hiking / mountaineering fan.  If you’re not familiar with how large expeditions go off, however, this book will be quite a confusing flop for you.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Outdoor enthusiasts or anyone familiar with mountaineering.