Controversy Over The Second Step

86 second step
Last week we all read the updates and watched the progress of the Altitude Everest Team which was the last team on the mountain, and were looking to summit following a free climb of the Second Step. By weeks end the team had accomplished their goal, and reached the top of Everest.

At the time, I posted an update about their accomplishment, and remarked on a curious note as well. Miss Elizabeth Hawley, the keeper of Himalayan climbing records, noted that this was the first successful free climb of the Second Step since a Chinese team had done it back in the mid-1960’s, despite the fact that ExWeb had posted an article about other climbers accomplishing the feat as well. In the case of Theo Fritsche, as recently as 2001.

Naturally Miss Hawley’s comments sparked some curiosity out of me, and I sent ExWeb an e-mail to see if they could clarify. Thei response was that they weren’t sure of the discrepancy either, but they were working hard to find out why the two more recent climbs were not recognized by Miss Hawley.

Things took a turn another strange turn when the Altitude Everest Team released a press statement with the following quote:

“America’s Conrad Anker and Britain’s Leo Houlding, are the first people to free climb the famous North East Ridge of Everest,”

This seems oddly out of place, no matter how you look at the climb. Strange indeed.

Today ExWeb has published an interview with Spaniard Oscar Cadiach who free climbed the Second Step himself back in 1985, and had a few things to say on the subject. Cadiach, who is a respected and well known climber, remembers the day well, as it was the same day that his first daughter was born.

He talks about such things as climbing without oxygen, what it was like going up that rock face, and more. It should also be noted that Cadiach completed his summit on August 28. Right in the middle of Monsoon Season. Crazy!

I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this and hopefully it’ll all get sorted out soon. Cadiach, for his part, doesn’t seem all that troubled about getting “recognition” for his climb. He knows what happen and feels confident in his work. It’s likely that it’s just a series of misunderstandings, but it seems strange that someone like Miss Hawley, who keeps very strict records on these sort of things, doesn’t recognize Cadiach or Fritsche’s climbs. Odd indeed.

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