A new landmark greeted mountaineers nearing the summit of Mount Everest this spring: a seven-foot-tall mast of scientific instruments bolted into the coarse shale of an outcropping known as Bishop Rock. It’s only about 130 vertical feet from the 29,032-foot summit, where one can look down the opposite side of the mountain, into China, and see another weather station about an equal distance from the top.
These installations are the highest outposts of two networks of automatic weather stations that stretch up Everest’s two popular routes. This being Everest, where controversy is no stranger, it wasn’t long before a quibble arose over bragging rights.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s not often that a team of climbers attempts K2, the “Savage Mountain,” in winter.
Before this season, the world’s second-highest mountain, first climbed in 1954, had been tried only six times in the coldest months. Each effort ended in failure. Even so, last month two expeditions of Nepali climbers converged on the Godwin Austen Glacier in a remote corner of Pakistan to attempt the feat.
Neither of the groups was there to guide wealthy Western clients to the top and then take back seats to their accomplishments, as Nepalis in general and ethnic Sherpa in particular often do as the hired help.… Seguir leyendo »
On a bright afternoon in June of 1922, the Mount Everest pioneer George Mallory was leading a group of 17 men tied together in three separate rope teams toward the North Col of the mountain when he heard an ominous sound, and turned to see an avalanche fracturing the steep slope above them.
Mallory and his rope mates were spared the brunt force of the slide, but the two teams following them — comprising 14 porters from Darjeeling, India — were swept down the mountain. Seven died. Mount Everest had claimed its first known victims.
One of Mallory’s companions, Howard Somervell, would later write, “I would gladly at that moment have been lying there dead in the snow, if only to give those fine chaps who had survived the feeling that we had shared their loss....”… Seguir leyendo »
All mountain climbs contain an element of risk. How a mountaineer chooses to approach that risk, using the sum of the physical, mental and emotional powers at his or her disposal, is the basic challenge of the endeavor. At its best, mountaineering rewards shrewd and independent decision making.
Sadly, events on the south (Nepalese) side of Mount Everest this season suggest that while the risks inherent in climbing the mountain have never been greater, a majority of Everest climbers are increasingly estranged from the decision-making process. Two intersecting trends are to blame: the rising number of people attempting the mountain, and the cumulative effects of global warming, which is slowly yet steadily drying out the Himalayas, resulting in rockfalls, avalanches and sérac collapses.… Seguir leyendo »