Altitude Everest Get Cold Feet!

Outside Online has more information about the Altitude Everest Team which summitted yesterday in their attempt to recreate the 1924 George Mallory/Sandy Irvine climb. As was mentioned in our comments on yesterday’s article, the team completed the climb using modern gear as opposed to the vintage gear they had intended to top out in. Apparently the cold temperatures at high altitude convinced the team that discretion was the better part of valor, so Conrad Anker and Leo Holding, donned the warmer, high tech gear for their free climb of the Second Step and their final leg to the summit.

Even more curious, is that Miss Elizabeth Hawley, the respected historian of Himalayan Climbing, has stated that the successful free climb on the Second Step is the first since the 1960’s when a Chinese team completed the impressive task. However, this runs counter to ExWeb’s recent article that says it’s been climbed as recently as 2001. Anyone know why there would be a discrepancy here? I do know one thing, if Miss Hawley doesn’t give it the thumbs up, it ain’t official! 😉

The fact that Anker and Holding had to switch into warmer gear does throw a shadow of doubt over the question of whether or not Mallory and Irvine topped out on Everest back in 1924. There has been a lot of speculation as to if they made it up or not. The fact that these experienced climbers elected to revert back to modern gear probably says a lot, and this isn’t the first time someone had tried to go up in vintage gear, only to abandon that attempt. As I said yesterday, we will probably never know for sure if Mallory and Irvine reached the summit, but the argument is also a little moot. I’ve always seen getting to the summit as only being half-way through the climb, and a successful descent is still part of the equation.

Kraig Becker

8 thoughts on “Altitude Everest Get Cold Feet!”

  1. What’s the distinction? It looks like the vintage garb but is made from modern materials and with different techniques?

    I was lead to believe that the replica gear they were wearing was even created in the same way as the gear from 1924. They did have the boots with nails in it and so on.

  2. Kraig,

    You are correct. As far as the discrepencies between ExWeb and Miss Hawley–this is something worth looking into. Have you tried contacting ExWeb about their statistics? I would like to know why the two differ as reason could perhaps be that Miss Hawley keeps track of the South side only. Jake Norton might have a clue as well as he is still in contact with Anker and crew and was even invited on this mission, but circumstances weren’t favorable for Jake..

  3. Actually, Miss Hawley keeps track of all Himalayan climbing. She even certifies a lot of other peaks besides Everest, and obviously she keeps track of the North Side as well, or she wouldn’t follow the Second Step at all.

    More likely what has happened is that for some reason or another she didn’t certify the other climbs that ExWeb mentioned. For instance, perhaps they free climbed the Second Step, but didn’t go up to the summit, so for her it didn’t count. I do know that she is one tough woman when she starts asking questions.

    Perhaps an e-mail to ExWeb or Jake would be a good idea. I’ll see what I can put together later.

  4. Couldn’t tell you all the distinctions. But the most important is that the Altitude Everest Expedition never intended to climb to the summit in their period clothing. They stated that from the very beginning. They were there to make a movie about Mallory. The clothing was donned to film “dramatic recreation” scenes.

    Leo even commented about how cold he was in the period clothing.

    Check here:

    Replica But Not Replica…

    There’s some confusion over the clothing worn by the team on Everest. The team behind the exact replicas made of Mallory’s clothing were hoping that a team using it would succeed on the mountain, proving that the clothing system could have worked.

    In tests it seems to have been very mobile and reasonably warm, though not in the same class as modern equipment. However, while the Altitude Everest team have been using look-alike outfits for filming, these are not exact copies of the replica clothing and the fabrics are not to the same specifications as the originals.

    Ed Douglas also posted a comment about this on the UKClimbing forum stating that the lookalike period clothing had nothing to do with the exact replicas that have been manufactured to exact specifications in recent years through the Moutain Heritage Trust (and tested out by Graham Hoyland on the lower reaches of Everest a couple of years ago).

  5. Ah, the media. What a curiously erroneous headline by Outside Online. Did they bother to listen to their own podcast interview with Conrad Anker which was published before the expedition took off, wherein Anker states they were planning to switch to modern clothing?! (Other early articles also pointed out that the team would be switching over to modern gear on the summit bid.)

  6. Interesting stuff on the gear. So it looks like the old gear, but was made with more modern methods and possibly fabrics. Hmm…

    And as for Miss Hawley not recognizing the other free climbs on the Second Step, I asked ExWeb about it, and they said that they were also confused and were sending e-mail inquiries. Stay tuned I guess.

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