Conquistadors of the Useless

Article code P-109892
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  • About the Book:

    Frenchman Lionel Terray is one of mountaineering history's greatest alpinists, and his autobiography, Conquistadors of the Useless, stands among the "100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time", according to National Geographic Adventure magazine. Following World War II, when France desperately needed successes to heal its wounds, Terray emerged as a national hero, conquering summits atop the planet's highest mountains.

    This biography of Lionel Terry is filled with first-time feats and acts of bravery in the face of unspeakable odds. He climbed with legends such as Maurice Herzog, Gaston Rebuffat, and Louis Lachenal. He made first ascents in the Alps, Alaska, the Andes, and the Himalaya. Terray's gripping story captures the energy of an optimistic world shaking off the restraints of war and austerity. It's a mountaineering classic.

    About Rachelle Vanderplas:

    Rachelle Vanderplas is a long time Utah resident who fell in love with the deep twisting canyons and wild rock formations of the southwest desert early on in life. It was these early experiences that shaped her spirit and kicked off a lifetime of wanderlust.  Her travels, both solo and with partners, have led her off the beaten path throughout Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and across the US. These adventures most often combine her curiosity for cultures of the world with her passions for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, kite boarding and trekking.

    Her professional life as a senior field geologist with the Bureau of Reclamation over the last 15 years, has led her to expand her skills to include mapping bedrock profiles for iconic structures, such as Hoover and Glen Canyon dams, as well as becoming one of the Upper Colorado Region’s lead Rope Access Technicians.

    Recently, between her travels and extended work shifts in the field, Rachelle has been spending more time in the Lake Tahoe area, immersing herself in the world class backcountry skiing, rock climbing and mountain biking available here. Rachelle is an avid reader who always has at least one novel queued up “on deck” with her travel friendly Kindle. Although she enjoys a wide range of genres, she is a sucker for non-fiction, history, and she is especially fond of stories about human challenge, adventure and wanderlust.

    Why Rachelle Chose This Book:

    Conquistadors of the Useless is a must read, mountaineering classic written by Lionel Terray, one of the early alpinists and a mountaineering culture legend. His book is an account of traveling and establishing first ascents in the Alps, Alaska, Andes, and the Himalaya. Terray accomplished these remarkable conquests in the highest reaches of the world, while simultaneously fighting as a mountain soldier for the French resistance, becoming a professional skier and eventually establishing himself as a world renown professional mountain guide.

    Terray’s writing captures the authenticity and historical relevance of the mountaineering culture during World War II, the challenges of post-war Europe and the influence of optimism that mountaineering brought to the world during such a poignant time in history. His book is boundless in discovery and personal reflections of alpinism, war, and the human drive for exploration in unfamiliar and uninhabitable places. Terray’s story brings together a technical and historical account of alpine exploration combined with philosophical enlightenment and insight that is sure to engage any reader, regardless of their interest in climbing. Conquistadors of the Useless is a true gem of mountaineering literature that embraces the enchantment of alpine exploration in a bygone era.