There are two interesting looking expeditions on Everest this spring, one aiming for the unclimbed Fantasy Ridge, the other, a British Army team on the difficult West Ridge. And Conan makes three :-)
We had an interesting conversation last week with George, the
fella who runs the established EverestNews.com
web-site and has been running it since the early days back in 1998 or
The site is, in our experience, the most reliable source of news
about Everest expeditions and summits and it's where we look when we
need to check facts or details. George was telling us that this
spring, he reckons there are only two expeditions on the mountain
that are genuinely interesting, the rest are simply repeats of the
standard routes that have put many hundreds of climbers on the summit
of the world's highest mountain.
The first, he says, is the small-scale Fantasy Ridge
attempt being made by a compact American team in alpine style and
being supported by EverestNews itself and led by Dave Watson.
Fantasy Ridge - also known as the East Ridge - is the last major
unclimbed ridge route on Everest and that's with good reason, it's
simply very, very hard. Situated on the Kangshung side of the
mountain, it can take two weeks simply to walk in to base camp, and
with only two teams having attempted the route before and not got
very far, there's only sketchy knowledge about what awaits.
What does seem clear is that the sun strikes the face early in the
morning, potentially creating serious avalanche danger and that the
climbing is hard. Neither of the previous teams even managed to climb
the intitial buttress and reach the ridge proper.
According to George, the team'd decided to go alpine style because
they consider that fixing rope on the route would present
unjustifiable risks particularly to Sherpas working with the
The team will be reporting exclusively to EverestNews.com
but we'll try to bring you occasional updates once climbing's
British Army West Ridge
The other expedition George reckons is noteworthy is our very
own British Army West Ridge expedition. Again it's an
extremely difficult route. First climbed in 1963 by Americans
Hornbein and Unsoeld, only 13 climbers have ever summited on the
route. To put that in perspective, around 2250 people have stood on
the world's highest mountain in total.
No British climber has ever reached the top of the route, so it's
a big challenge for the 21 members of the team. They're planning to
use a classic expedition pyramid of camps up the mountain partially
linked with fixed ropes and it should take approximately six weeks to
establish all the required camps and make a summit bid.
We'll tell you more about the bid in due course - the team is at
the NEC show if you're heading to Birmingham at the weekend - but you
can fill in some of the blanks at the team's web site at www.armyoneverest.com
And Conan Too...
Finally and very definitely not least, OM member Conan
Harrod is back on Everest this year for a second attempt on the
mountain after his epic broken leg episode in 2003. 'Survivor', as
he's known on the forum, is also raising funds for the Christie