In the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods by Galen Rowell may not seem like an appropriate book to review in an esoteric publication devoted to Thelema and the work and memory of Aleister Crowley, but as they [whoever "they" are] say, "appearances can be deceiving".
In the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods is a very handsome volume, beautifully adorned with numerous colour photographs, that deals with the 1975 American K2 expedition. Do you now begin to see the connection? K2, the second highest mountain in the world, also known as Chogori, was one of the mountains that Oscar Eckenstein and Aleister Crowley attempted to climb to the summit. According to Crowley in The Confessions of Aleister Crowley they achieved a height that was at that time [and for a long time to come] a world's record. This was naturally disputed by the Alpine Club and again Crowley's words were made suspect.
Not only does this wonderful book give a detailed account of the 1975 American K2 expedition, but it speaks of both A.C. and Eckenstein and asserts that these men have been maligned and that what A.C. had written in The Confessions does indeed hold up under the evidence of personal experience.
It should be remembered that this book was not written by a Thelemite. Indeed, Mr. Galen Rowell does not seem all that particularly interested in either Crowley or Thelema [it was in fact another member of the party who was greatly interested in the writings of Aleister Crowley] and yet this book which is excellent enough without mention of A.C. is made even better by the vindication of Crowley and Eckenstein. It is, in my opinion, an excellent book for students of Crowley's writings to have. In the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods provides another and objective point of view that goes a long way to prove some of the validity of Crowley's statements and claims, and dispells some of the lies circulated about both Crowley and Eckenstein.
Furthermore, this large book of 326 pages is filled with black and white and mostly exquiusite colour photographs of K2 and its surroundings. What most interested me were the photographs of "The lower Baltoro Glacier" and "Lou, Fred Dunham, and Wick in a hot spring near Askole" for these give a location to the picture of a thin and bearded Aleister Crowley sittng naked in a pool of water surrounded by rocks, the photo to be found in Magick in Theory and Practice and labelled, in Greek letters, "CHAIRE SOTER KOSMOY" [Hail, Saviour of the World]. Comparing the photographs one must conclude that the picture of A.C. in Magick was probably taken at one of the hot springs near Askole, where one finds the last village on the approach to K2.
Again it should be remembered that Mr. Rowell is not a Thelemite and his knowledge of Crowley, Magick and Thelema is not equal to his knowledge and experience of mountain climbing, but nevertheless this book goes a long way towards vindicating both Aleister Crowley and Oscar Eckenstein while it also does an excellent job of recording the sights and experiences of a difficult climb upon a great mountain that has led to uncountable disasters.
If you can find this book, obtain it! It measures about 8 ½ x 11 x 1 inches and contains a mountain of interesting information and entertainment.
[TNN Vol. V, No. 1, March 1986 E.V.]