The Ascent of Rum Doodle is a short 1956 novel by W. E. Bowman (1911-1985). It is a parody of the non-fictional chronicles of mountaineering expeditions (notably Maurice Herzog's book Annapurna chronicling the first ascent of Annapurna in Nepal) that were popular during the 1950s, as many of the world's highest peaks were climbed for the first time. A new edition was released in 2001 with an introduction by the contemporary humorist Bill Bryson. It has been critically well received. Though a parody, it has become one of the most famous and celebrated books of mountaineering literature.
The book has been republished several times since 1956. The current edition is published by Pimlico, an imprint of Random House.
A bar and restaurant in Kathmandu, called Rum Doodle and decorated with pictures from the book, has become a popular staging point for expeditions to Mt. Everest. Many expeditions are given large wooden footprints to sign which are then nailed to the wall, ceilings and even the bar. The wall bears signatures from many famous mountaineers, including Sir Edmund Hillary, Reinhold Messner, Ed Viesturs, Rob Hall, and many Sherpas, including Ang Rita.
A small mountain in the Masson Range in Antarctica, near Mawson Station, bears the official name Rumdoodle Peak inspired by this book. A mountainous point in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand is known as Rumdoodle. The northeast ridge of Pikes Peak, in Colorado, has been unofficially nicknamed Rumdoodle Ridge by local climbers.
Bill Bowman worked for the RAF as a radar mechanic during World War II and afterwards worked as a volunteer for International Voluntary Service in Germany. He was a structural engineer by profession and retired in 1971. Bowman's only other published work is The Cruise of the Talking Fish, a parody of Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki expedition.
The book was included as one of the '1000 Novels Everyone Must Read' in the Guardian in January 2009.
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