official permission from Nepal, and only a few months after
the 1950 Anglo-American Nepal Reconnaissance, the Dane Klavs
Becker-Larsen attempts to climb the Northern pre-war Everest
route but via a southern approach. With a party of Sherpa
porters and guides, he attempts to enter Tibet via the Lho La,
and actually climbs about halfway up before being turned back
by rockfall and his lack of experience (it was the first time
he had ever used an ice ax!). Undeterred, Larsen crosses the
Nampa La instead and reaches the Rongbuk Monastery. Several
days later Larsen and two Sherpas attempt to climb the North
Col but turn back after yet more rockfall. Larsen wisely gives
up the attempt and returns to Nepal.
Reconnaissance supported by the Alpine Club and the Royal
Geographic Society. A post-monsoon exploration led by Eric
Shipton with M.P. Ward, T. Bourdillon, W.H. Murray, and New
Zealanders Edmund Hillary and H. Riddiford, the expedition was
forced to contend with swollen streams, washed-out bridges,
leeches, and reluctant porters. On the 22nd of September they
reached Namche Bazaar, and three days later left with the
objective of scaling the Khumbu Icefall and enter the Western
Cwm. From a vantagepoint on the lower slopes of Pumori, they
could see that the route up to the South Col looked feasible.
Eventually the expedition pushed the route almost completely
through to the top of the Icefall before retreating.
Expeditions sponsored by the Swiss Foundation for Alpine
Attempt: led by Dr. E. Wyss-Dunant with climbers G. Chevalley,
R. Lambert, R. Dittert, L. Flory, R. Aubert, A. Roch, J. Asper,
E. Hofstetter, and Tenzing Norgay as Sirdar. The party ascends
the Geneva Spur and places Camp VI on the South Col. Camp VII
is placed at approximately 27,500 feet (8382 meters) on the SE
Ridge. After a miserable night without sleeping bags or a
stove, Tenzing Norgay and Raymond Lambert make an attempt
using oxygen but fail below the South Summit at an altitude of
28,210 feet (8595 meters), beating Norton's height record by
only 84 feet (25 meters)!
Attempt: led by G. Chevalley with climbers R. Lambert, E.
Reiss, J. Buzio, A. Spohel, G. Gross, N.G. Dyhrenfurth. The
indomitable Tenzing returns again as expedition Sirdar.
Instead of climbing the Geneva Spur, the route is pushed up
the Lhotse Face instead, now the standard route. Unfortunately
the expedition is fraught with bad luck and the Sherpa Mingma
Dorje is killed on the Lhotse Face by falling ice, the first
Everest fatality in twenty years since Maurice Wilson.
Climbing along with the same party, incredibly a second rope
slips on the ice and falls 600 feet (180 meters) to the bottom
of the slope. Miraculously no one else is injured. A camp is
established on the South Col, but the arrival of winter's
bitter cold and fierce gales puts an end to the attempt. The
expedition lays the groundwork for 1953.
of a post-monsoon Russian attempt from the North led by Dr.
Pawel Datschnolian, possibly with the hope of beating the
Swiss to the top and scoring major propaganda points in an age
of Sputnik. There are reports that this expedition left Moscow
on October 16th and eventually placed Camp VII at 26,800 feet
(8170 meters) before six climbers (including Datschnolian)
simply disappeared. The Russians deny the expedition ever took
place and the Chinese have never made any mention of it.
Interestingly enough, in an interview with the Tibetan Gonbu
(also known as Gonpa), a member of the successful 1960 Chinese
first ascent of the North Ridge, a "mystery camp"
was encountered at 27,900 feet (8500 meters). Located above
the Yellow Band, this camp could not have been placed there by
any of the British pre-war expeditions. Was the camp placed
there by this "mystery" Soviet expedition?
Expedition and FIRST SUMMIT. Led by Colonel John Hunt and
consisting of climbers Dr. R.C. Evans, G. Band, T. Bourdillon,
A. Gregory, Edmund Hillary, W.G. Lowe, C. Noyce, M.P. Ward, M.
Westmacott, and C.G. Wylie. Returning as Sirdar from the Swiss
attempts is yet again Tenzing Norgay. The route through the
Icefall is completed by April 22, Camp VI is established at
the foot of the Lhotse face at 23,000 feet (7000 meters), and
after a lengthy delay, the South Col is reached via the Lhotse
Face route pioneered by the Swiss the year before.
May 26: First
Assault by Evans and Bourdillon from the South Col using
closed-circuit oxygen sets. The same day Hunt leads a party of
Sherpas from the South Col with the intent to establish Camp
IX on the SE Ridge for the second assault party consisting of
Hillary and Tenzing. Evans and Bourdillon reach the South
Summit at 1 PM at an elevation of 28,750 feet (8770 meters),
but are forced to descend due to the lateness of the hour,
strong winds, and lack of oxygen.
Second Assault by Hillary and Tenzing using open-circuit
oxygen sets. They leave Camp IX at approximately 27,900 feet
(8500 meters) by 6:30 AM, and reach the S. Summit by 9 AM.
After negotiating the 40 foot (12 meter) Hillary Step, they
are the first to reach the summit of Everest, reaching the top
at 11:30 AM. After descending to the South Col, they are met
by George Lowe where Hillary states: "Well, George, we
knocked the bastard off!"
height of Everest is adjusted by 26 feet to 29,028 feet (8848
Everest/Lhotse Expedition led by A. Eggler with W. Diehl, H.
Grimm, Dr E. Leuchtold, F. Luchsinger, J. Marmet, F. Muller,
E. Reiss, A. Reist, E. Schmied, H. Von Gunten and Sirdar
Pasang Dawa Lama. The South Col was reached by the middle of
May, and a successful summit bid was done on Lhotse via the
very difficult North ridge on May 18 by Reiss and Von Gunten.
On May 23 from a high camp at 27,500 feet (8400 meters) on the
SE Ridge, Schmied and Marmet reach the summit. The following
day Reist and Von Gunten also reach the summit.
Chinese/Russian reconnaissance from the North that reaches
21,000 feet (6,400 meters) below the North Col. The plan was
for the two countries to return later for a joint assault, but
this expedition never materialized after relations between the
two states deteriorate.
and Tibetan team of 214 men and women, led by Shih Chan- chun,
makes the first summit of Everest via the North Col and
Northeast Ridge. Long doubted by Western mountaineers because
of the lack of a summit photo and the claim of summiting at
night, the photos and film the Chinese did release reveal that
they at least climbed the Second Step, the key to the route
(although Reinhold Messner claims he possesses documentation
proving they didn't climb it, so far this evidence has not
been produced). The final assault party of Wang Fu-chou, Liu
Lien-man, Chu Yin-hua, and the Tibetan Gonbu (also known as
Gonpa) assaulted the final 15 foot (5 meter) Second Step
headwall using pitons and team tactics. After Liu Lien- man
repeatedly falls off attempting to lead the pitch, Chu Yin-hua
takes off his boots and socks, and using a shoulder stand
last vertical pitch in bare feet! Exhausted by his effort, Liu
Lien- man is forced to halt at 28,600 feet (8,700 meters), but
the remaining three climbers make it to the summit where they
purportedly leave a plaster bust of Chairman Mao by a rock
Indian Expedition led by Brigadier G. Singh. Climbers Capt. N.
Kumar, Sonam Gyatso, and Sherpa Nawang Gombu reach 28,300 feet
(8625 meters) just below the South Summit before retreating in
a violent storm and driving snow.
four-man expedition led by the American Woodrow Wilson Sayre
following the pre-war British route up the North Col and NE
Ridge. Possessing a permit to climb Gyanchung Kang from the
Nepalese side, the party ascends the Ngozumpa Icefall with
Sherpa support, but then surreptitiously crosses the Nup La
into Tibet. Without porters and relying on a grueling schedule
of load-shuttling that covers the same ground three times
daily, the group reaches the base of the North Col in nineteen
days. They climb the North Col, but a fall lands Sayre and
partner Roger Hart in a crevasse where they survive the night
by wrapping themselves up in a tent. Undeterred, Sayre and
Norman Hansen set off the very next day up the North Ridge,
but can only climb 1,200 feet (400 meters) in the next two
days. Realizing that they are beaten, they turn back but Sayre
slips and falls 600 feet (200 meters) down the North Ridge
snowfield before stopping. Incredibly, the now emaciated and
half-starved expedition is able to return back over the Nup La
into Nepal without encountering Chinese patrols.
Indian Expedition with Major John Dias as leader. Returning to
the SE Ridge route, climbers Sonam Gyatso, Hari Dang, and
Mohan Kohli are forced to retreat from a high point of 28,600
feet (8720 meters) because of bad weather.
American Expedition with Norman Dyhrenfurth as leader and
including A. Auten, Barry Bishop, Jake Breitenbach, J. Corbet,
D. Dingman, D. Doody, R. Emerson, Tom Hornbein, Lute Jerstad,
J. Lester, Willi Unsoeld, and Jim Whittaker. A huge
expedition, costing almost $400,000 and supported by the
National Geographic Society, over 900 porters carry 29 tons of
food and equipment to the base of the mountain. Base Camp is
established at the foot of the Khumbu Icefall on Mar 21 and
the route through the icefall prepared soon after. Jake
Breitenbach is killed by collapsing seracs in the Icefall but
the expedition continues. The expedition splits into two
parties - the West Ridgers and the South Collers.
Assault: May 1 From Camp 6 at 27,450 feet (8370 meters) on the
Jim Whittaker and
Nawang Gombu Sherpa reach the
summit in strong winds at 1 PM.
Whittaker becomes the first
American to summit Everest.
Assault: After a tent at Camp 4W - including occupants - is
nearly blown off the West Shoulder by hurricane force winds,
Camp 5W is placed in the Hornbien Couloir at the foot of the
Yellow Band at 27,250 feet (8300 meters). Tom Hornbein and
Willi Unsoeld squeeze their way through the couloir and ascend
a 60 foot (20 meter) headwall before emerging onto the upper
summit pyramid at 27,900 feet (8500 meters). The pair then
traverse across to the West Ridge proper, reaching the summit
at 6:15 PM. They are forced to descend the SE Ridge where they
meet Jerstad and Bishop who had summited at 3:30 PM. The four
men descend to around 28,000 feet (8500 meters) before having
to bivouac for the night on the ridge proper. They survive a
long, cold night out in the open and descend safely to the
South Col the next day. Unsoeld later loses most of his toes
to frostbite. The first new route and the first traverse of
Indian Expedition, with Commander M.S Kohli as leader. On May
20, 1965 they succeed when A.S. Cheema and Sherpa Nawang Gombu
ascend the SE Ridge. Gombu becomes the first person to summit
Everest twice (the 11th and 17th summit). Out of the first
seventeen summits of Everest, Nawang had two of them!
Additional summits were achieved by
Sonam Gyatso, Sonam
Wangyal, C.P. Vohra, Ang Kami Sherpa, H.P.S. Ahluwalia, H.C.S. Rawat,
and Phu Dorje Sherpa.
Nepal is closed to mountaineering during this politically
tense period involving antagonists India and China.
Japanese SW Face Reconnaissance Expeditions. In the Spring, a
party including Naomi Uemura enters the Western Cwm and probes
the lower slopes. The Japanese return in the autumn with
Uemura and Masatsugu Konishi, and the route is pushed up the
Central Gully to the base of the Rock Band before the
expedition returns home, convinced that a full-scale
expedition could succeed.
Japanese SW Face
Expedition led by the seventy-year old veteran Saburo
Matsukata. A massive expedition with 39 climbers,
seventy-seven Sherpas and a woman, Setsuko Watanabe. Unable to improve on the previous year's
reconnaissance efforts due to poor snow conditions and
rockfall, the expedition switches to the standard South Col
route. Teruo Matsuura and Naomi Uemura reach the summit on May
11, followed by K. Hirabayashi and
Sherpa on the next
day. Watanabe sets an altitude record for women by climbing
to the South Col.
Japanese Ski Expedition. Climbing along with the SW Face
expedition, Yuichiro Miura skis from the South Col to the
bottom of the Lhotse Face on May 6. Reaching speeds of 100 mph
(160 kph), Miura slows himself with a parachute but loses
control after hitting some rocks. He slides unconscious about
600 feet (200 meters) down the icy slopes, and fortunately
stops just short of a huge crevasse.
International Expedition. Norman Dyhrenfurth leads an
expedition with thirty climbers from thirteen different
countries including Don Whillans, Dougal Haston, Naomi Uemura,
Pierre Mazeaud, and H. Bahuguna. This optimistic expedition
hopes to simultaneously climb the SW Face and the West Ridge
Direct, but is fraught with one- upsmanship, personality
conflicts, and organizational problems. Bahuguna is caught out
in a storm at Camp 3W. A rescue party climbs up to help him
and he is found clipped onto the fixed ropes, missing a glove,
his bare midriff exposed to the storm, and his face coated in
ice. When it proves impossible to move him horizontally, they
try to lower him vertically into the shelter of a crevasse,
but the rope runs out before they can reach it a la Tony Kurtz
on the Eiger Nordwald. Whillans utters his famous remark,
"Sorry Harsh old son, you've had it." The expedition
falters after his death, but Whillans and Haston push the SW
Face route to 27,400 feet (8,350 meters) before lack of
equipment forces an end to the expedition.
Argentine Post-Monsoon Expedition. A post-monsoon expedition
where J. Peterek and U. Vitale reach 26,600 feet (8,100
meters) before being defeated by high winds and an unfavorable
European Expedition to the SW Face led by Dr. Karl
Herrligkoffer and including climbers Don Whillans, Doug Scott,
Hamish MacInnes, Felix Kuen, Adolf Huber, Werner Haim, and Leo
Breitenberger. The expedition is plagued by personality
conflicts and the withdrawal of many of the climbers, but the
route is pushed as high as 27,200 feet (8,300 meters) before
the attempt is abandoned.
SW Face Expedition led by Chris Bonington including climbers
Mick Burke, Nick Estcourt, Dougal Haston, K. Kent, Hamish
MacInnes, Tony Tighe, and Doug Scott. A post-monsoon
expedition confronted with terrible weather, an elevation of
27,200 feet (8,300 meters) is reached below the Rock Band
before retreating. Tragically, Tony Tighe is killed in the
Icefall during the descent.
Expedition. Another huge expedition with sixty-four members
led by Guido Monzino. Helicopters are used to shuttle
equipment past the Khumbu Icefall and one hundred Sherpas are
also employed. Eight climbers succeed via the South Col Route,
including 16 year old Sambhu Tamang of Nepal. It is later
revealed that Sambhu was actually 18.
Italian Summiters were Rinaldo Carrel,
Virginio Epis, and
Japanese Expedition. Led by Michio Yuasa, this large forty-eight man expedition attempted both the SW Face and South Col
route. The SW Face party reaches 27,200 feet (8,300 meters)
before giving up. Success is achieved on the South Col route
when Hisahi Ishiguro and Yasuo Kato reach the summit, the
first post-monsoon success on the mountain.
Expedition attempts the South Col route. A high camp is
placed on the SE Ridge, and twice teams were in position for a
attempt, but both times are defeated by high winds. The second
team manages to reach 27,900 feet (8,500 meters) before
1974: French West Ridge Expedition. Led by Gerald Devouassoux,
monsoon attempt to climb the West Ridge Direct starting from
La. Because of political considerations, they don't climb the
leading up to the Lho La directly, but start from the base of
Khumbu Icefall; the expedition eventually reaches the West
by September 9. A major lapse in monitoring weather reports
them from learning that an unexpected return of warm monsoon
is about to occur. The tragic result is that Gerald
five Sherpas are swept away in a immense avalanche, after
expedition is called off.
1975: Japanese Ladies Expedition led by Mrs Eiko Hisana. On
Junko Tabei of Japan became the first woman to reach the
the South-East Ridge.
1975: Chinese Expedition led by Shih Chan-chun, leader of the
Chinese ascent, and organized by a "Party Committee"
Wang Fu-chou, one of the 1960 summiters. A military-style
that uses soldiers to carry supplies to the North Col and
tactics to progressively reposition camps higher and higher up
mountain. A final assault camp is established between the
Second Steps at 28,500 feet (8,680 meters) by the Mushroom
the Second Step is prepared with an aluminum ladder to
final vertical headwall pitch. A team of nine climbers - eight
Tibetan and one Chinese - reaches the summit on May 27,
Tibetan woman, Phantog. Phantog becomes the second woman to
Everest, losing this honor to Junko Tabei by only a few days.
the first woman to summit from the Tibetan side.
1975: British SW Face Expedition (post-monsoon). Leader Chris
Bonington and including H. MacInnes, Peter Boardman, Martin
P. Braithwaite, Micke Burke, M. Cheney, C. Clarke, Nick
Dougal Haston, and Doug Scott. Base Camp is reached on August
Advance Base is established on September 2. The expedition is
with good weather and smooth logistics, resulting in the
placement of camps up the Central Gully to Camp 5 at 25,500
(7800 meters). The Rock Band is ascended via a gully on the
by Estcourt and Braithwaite, who have some sporty moments when
oxygen runs out on dicey pitches at 27,000 feet (8200 meters).
upper icefield is reached via an awkward outward-sloping ramp;
and Scott establish Camp 6 a few days later at an elevation of
feet (8300 meters). The next day they fix 1,500 feet of rope
upper snowfield, extending the route towards a gully leading
the South Summit.
First Assault: Sept 24: Haston and Scott reach the South
Summit at 3 PM after 11 hours of climbing. After preparing a snow cave and
drinking a brew, they continue on to the summit which they
reach at 6
PM. They descend to the South Summit and bivouac in the
After a freezing, oxygenless night complete with hypoxic
conversations with feet, toes, and imaginary companions, the
descend to Camp 6 safely, passing the second assault party on
Second Assault: Sept 26: Boardman and Sirdar Pertemba reach
summit and descend in a gathering storm, where they encounter
Burke just below the summit. They wait for him as long as
before descending, but Burke is never seen alive again. He
made the top but fell off of the heavily corniced summit ridge
descending in the deteriorating conditions.
to the Everest Time Line