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EverestHistory.com: Michael "Bronco" Lane


"Bronco Lane is an exceptional soldier whose spirit of adventure and readiness to take risks has led him to the most extreme and dangerous places on earth - including the summit of Mt. Everest."

-- General Michael Rose

Brummie and Bronco, Brummie being the one on the right.

Source: John "Brummie" Stokes

The above quote ably captures the spirit of Michael "Bronco" Lane, a soldier, adventurer, climber and author. But it does nothing to capture the sometimes-dark humor of the man who would eventually offer his amputated frostbitten toes to an exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's historic first summit of Everest.

In 1976 Major Michael Lane was given leave from the British Special Air Service to attempt an Army ascent of Everest. With his fellow SAS member and friend Sgt. John "Brummie" Stokes, Lane reached Everest's summit on May 16th in the first successful all-military ascent.

The expedition was a joint British-Nepalese Army operation under the command of Lt. Col Tony Streather. Although they succeeded in putting two men on the summit the expedition was marred by the death of Terry Thompson, a Marines captain, who died in fall into a crevasse at Camp 2.

As he would later recount in his book "Military Mountaineering" after summiting the weather atop Everest turned rough, as it often does, and the men were forced to abandon their descent and bivouac in a snow hole near the South Summit for the night. Both men were badly frostbitten, losing all their toes.

In the tradition of SAS humor Lane had his toes preserved and kept them behind the regimental mess. When contacted by the National Army Museum regarding memorabilia from his ascent Lane offered up his severed digits.

"Our team had no prima donnas, and unselfishness was displayed to a very high degree. Unfortunately we lost Terry Thompson in a tragic accident, which marred our ascent. Losing a climbing companion is a stark reminder that you do not conquer mountains, but sneak up and down when nature has her back turned."

-- Michael "Bronco" Lane

   




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