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Longlisted for the Dolman Travel Book of the Year - this is the doyen of travel writing at his elegiac and luminous best.

In his new book, Colin Thubron travels to Tibet, and takes the pilgrimage route to Kailas, the most sacred of the world’s mountains, holy to one fifth of the earth’s people, but rarely visited by westerners. Buddhists and Hindus have ritually circled the mountain for centuries, but its steepest slopes are sacrosanct and no one has ever climbed to the summit. Thubron made the expedition shortly after his mother’s death, and his hike through a challenging terrain of rocks, lakes and remote monasteries is perhaps one of his most personal and poetic books to date.


Given that Thubron has shown himself over a lifetime's work to be our finest, is seems fitting that what is as much memoir as travel book should have as its setting the greatest spiritual pilgrimage the East has to offer

Daily Telegraph

A master class in travel writing that's also infused with the author's "shadowy melancholy" of ageing and grief...Thubron showcases here all the skills that have earned him the champion's belt as Britain's best living travel writer

Sunday Times

Exquisitely written, To a Mountain in Tibet is not just a travelogue; it amounts to a heart-felt hosanna to the travails of walking... Colin Thubron takes us back to the days of exploration when the going was rough. To a Mountain in Tibet, a matchless work of literary travel, confirms Thubron as a wise and discriminate prospector in the affairs of man

Ian Thompson, Irish Times

Daring and brilliant. Thubron has crafted a book which beautifully describes one man's experience of loss, familial love, and even the state of mortal indeterminacy itself - how we all keep our memories, consoled and bewildered by turns, the sun on our faces, and the birds carrying above

Joanna Kanvenna, Observer

This is a bold and brave journey, an elegiac book by a master of prose at the height of his powers

Justin Marozzi, Evening Standard

The writing glitters. Thubron has always been a travel-writing stylist, in the lyrical mould of Patrick Leigh Fermor, but with the quartz-like eye of Freya Stark

Tom Adair, Scotsman

As he makes the arduous ritual circle of Kailas, the rocks and gullies come alive with their sacred meanings and give us an understanding of faiths held with a passion unfamiliar in the West. His profound, elegant and fascinating little book is much weightier than it appears.

Christopher Hudson, Daily Mail

Thubron's books celebrate the terrible, pitiful, beautiful, human condition ... To a Mountain in Tibet offers no redemption and no conclusion. Instead, it is an elegy for everything that makes us human

Sara Wheeler, Guardian

The most profound and revealing thing [Thubron] has ever written


This is not only a book about Tibet; it is a book about Colin Thubron and much the richer for that

Country Life

The subject matter - gloomy, perhaps, in other hands - shines in Thubron's beautiful prose

The Lady

Thubron's descriptive writing is as dazzling as the scenery. His scholarship on the area's religious and political history is enthralling

Tom Robbins, Financial Times

It could have been written for radio in how vividly it makes you see pictures, hear sounds, notice the worn trainers on the man who joined them for part of the trek, catch the tap of the sherpa's staff. It sounds like a conversation with the listener's imagination

Daily Telegraph, Book of the Week

With a landscape that easily provokes superlatives or just stupefied wonder, and a culture steeped in esoteric beliefs, Tibet needs a writer of Thubron's caliber to do it justice

Lonely Planet

He describes both landscapes and humans in sharp poetic detail and provides a deceptively simple account of both the inner and outer journey.

The Week

In an elegiac mood and powerful prose. Thubron considers the significance of his journey, the poetry and politics of the region, and the bleak landscapes that reflect solitude


An utterly absorbing read... An elegiac meditation on life, death, family and mortality. Beautiful


Thubron is an impressive prose stylist..he writes with great elegiac precision

Times Literary Supplement

It's a pleasure to follow Colin Thubron's hesitant pilgrimage ... the last of the great post-war British travel writers

Waterstone's Books Quarterly

Amid the desolation there is a beauty that comes not only from the things that Thubron chooses to describe but from the way in which he describes them


What Thubron provides in his inimitable way is an account of both fellow pilgrimsand himself


Wonderfully poetic tale


Colin Thurbron's ode to a mystical mountain in Tibet... Not to be missed

Daily Telegraph

This latest travelogue confirms Colin Thubron as one of the greatest contemporary travel writers

Time Out

I am haunted by its spare simplicity and beauty

Simon Winchester, Daily Telegraph, summer reading

His measures prose matches the region's stark beauty. Refreshing

Financial Times

haunting and profound

Sunday Express Magazine

This pure artist of the voyage looks back backwards and within, to his late mother and his childhood, as well as up to the Himalayan peaks and peoples that he sumptuously evokes

Boyd Tonkin, Independent, Books of the Year

[An] elegiac account of high-altitude piety...he's still one of the best in the business

Helen Davies, Sunday Times, Books of the Year

An absolutely terrific book. Thubron has perfect pitch. He uses the minimum of words to maximum effect. His descriptions are fresh and acute and he can convey atmosphere and emotion on the head of a pin. The journey to Mount Kailash is enthralling and he keeps the reader right beside him every inch of the way

Michael Palin, Observer, Books of the Year

Punchy, evocative... It is a dangerous journey up to 18,000ft, where Thubron, who is mourning his mother, is hit by altitude sickness

Tom Chesshyre, The Times

Punchy, evocative... It is a dangerous journey up to 18,000ft, where Thubron, who is mourning his mother, is hit by altitude sickness

Tom Chesshyre, The Times

Abook which beautifully describes one man's experience of loss and familial love

Joanna Kavenna, Guardian

[Thubron] skilfully balances his poetic descriptions of the land and its subtle, shifting colours with human stuff - observations of his fellow travellers, encounters and personal anecdotes, snippets of history and rather interesting accounts of Tantric Buddhism, with its swirling pantheon of blue-faced demons, bodhisattvas, gods and goddesses... Thubron has recently buried his last living relative and his grieving gives depth and weight to his meditations on Tibetan Buddhism

Angus Clarke, The Times

This is a superb book from a writer who over his lifetime has shown himself to be our finest modern chronicler of Asia


The keenest-eyed, least self-absorbed, of literary travellers, Colin Thubron writes with a pin-point elegance and economy that directs your gaze to a place and its people, rather than to the author's foibles... His tales of seekers, refugees and mystics richly sketch the background of Tibetan history and Buddhist belief. Above all, his lean and supple prose draws meaning and moment from every encounter. "To the pilgrims, there are no mute stones" - and not to their ultra-observant companion

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

His book is interspersed with poignant passages about his late parents and sister, who died in an avalanche when he was 23. Thubron also reveals some cultural surprises.

Simon Shaw, Daily Mail

Making a lyrical hymn out of travel writing, Thubron's evocative pilgrimage is typically poised yet, triggered by the death of his mother, also unusually personal

Sunday Telegraph

Thubron's writing is as spectacular as his surroundings so he therefore makes you feel as though you are treading the path with him

Charlotte Vowden, Daily Express

[Thubron] doesn't just walk into the higher reaches of the Himalyas but explores his own reaches of eternity as well as the more outer regions of Buddhism and Hinduism

The Irish Times

Deploying a poetic blend of travel and memoir, Thubron uses Buddhism to inform reflections on the cycles of life and the meaning of suffering... it is an elegy for everything that makes us human

Sara Wheeler, Guardian

Reflections of the wheel of life are sensitively handled and the writing is as beautiful as ever

Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times

A new Travel Thubron is always to be savoured, but there was something valedictory and elegiac about this

Gavin Francis, Scotland on Sunday, Books of the Year

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    March 1, 2012


    240 pages

    RRP $27.99

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  • EBook


    September 1, 2011

    Vintage Digital

    240 pages

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