April 2nd, 2008

don't fear death

some everest records

in the spirit of the season. :)

first - Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Hillary: "Well, we knocked the bastard off !" (it could have been Wilson, Mallory, Irvine, or even someone never found)

first woman - Junko Tabei of japan in 1975. the first american woman was Stacey Allison in 1988. the fourth woman to summit, Hannelore Schmatz, was also the first woman to die on the mountain. the first nepali woman also died on descent, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, in 1993.
80% of all deaths on everest happen during descent.

first without oxygen - Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler in 1978. i always remember Messner's words about being on the top: "I am nothing more than a single narrow gasping lung, floating over the mists and summits." the first to also solo everest (1980), first to climb the seven summits, crossed the Gobi Desert and the Antarctic on foot, and many other feats, Messner may be the greatest mountaineer of our time. he is certainly the most famous.
Francys Arsentiev was the first american woman to summit without oxygen. she died during descent, just below the first step in 1988. Ian Woodall, haunted after having to leave her, returned, nine years later to wrap her body in an american flag and move it out of view. her body had become a landmark, as many do, with her bright purple jacket standing out against the snow.

straight from sea level to summit without oxygen - Tim Macartney in 1990

at 71, Katsusuke Yanagisawa, is the oldest to reach the summit in 2007 breaking 70 year-old Yuichiro Miura's 2003 record (who returned 32 years after skiing down from the south col).
Katsusuke may lose that record this year.

the youngest was Temba Tsheri, at 16 (maybe), in 2001 and Ming Kipa Sherpa, also 16, in 2002. because birthdates are not well recorded, no one really knows who is the record holder for youngest.

one of the best climbers ever, Babu Chiri Sherpa, was the first to spend the night on the summit in a specially designed tent. he spent nearly 22 hours there in 1999. in 2001 he died at camp II. Babu had 10 summits to his record and also broke a speed record of 16 hours and 56 minutes in 2000. his speed record was broken in 2003 by Pemba Dorjie Sherpa (12 hours and 45 minutes), and that one broken by Lakpa Gelu Sherpa (10 hours and 56 minutes)

first ski descent - without taking them off at all - Davo Karnicar in 2000.

first blind person to summit - Erik Weihenmayer, american in 2001. Erik has climbed the seven summits!

Stefan Gatt snowboarded most the way down without oxygen in 2001. Marco Siffredi was the first to board all the way down to ABC in 2001.

Gary Guller - american, in 2003 was the first to summit with only one arm.

Mark Inglis, a double amputee, reached the summit in 2006.

i think Appa Sherpa still has the most summits at 17!

approximate corpses on everest - known as the highest graveyard in the world, there are around 120 corpses, many that are stepped over on the way up and down, since the first recorded attempts in 1922 left 7 dead.

an indian climber who died in the tragic year of 1996, has become a landmark known as "green boots." it was here that David Sharp collapsed in 2006 and was passed by over a dozen climbers, sparking serious controversy and Hillary's public rage.

and, of course, in 1999, the body of Mallory was found.

up until last season, more than 200 lives have been lost on everest of about 3100 ascents, making the odds of coming down alive about 1 in 8. the cost? around $60,000.

meanwhile.....work on the icefall has begun. this is when the "icefall doctors" start fixing the route through the Khumbu Icefall. with cameras and phones being confiscated, i doubt i'll be posting many everest photos of the day this year. :(