As I’ve mentioned a few times already this year, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the first American summit of Everest by Jim Whittaker. Yesterday we had the privilege of hearing about how Everest has changed in the past half-century from the man himself and today we get even more insights from The Adventure Journal. Our friends at AJ have posted a great article listing 50 Things About The 50th Anniversary, with more than a few interesting nuggets of information for all of you Everest junkies.
Amongst the more tantalizing trivia is the fact that the American expedition numbered nearly a thousand strong on the trek to Base Camp. That trek was 187 miles in length back in 1963 and took a month to complete. Today it’s just 40 miles and requires just 8-10 days. Whittaker was joined on the summit by Sherpa Nawang Gombu and each had a single cup of “hot” Jello for breakfast before setting out. How’s that for a nutritious start to a tough climb?
Whittaker and Gombu topped out on May 1 and three weeks later, Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld would follow suit, making the first ascent of the very difficult West Ridge. The Adventure Journal piece has plenty to share about their climb as well, including Unsold reciting a very fitting line from poet Robert Frost on the summit.
I’ve mentioned that we’re likely to hear a lot about these famous expeditions in the months ahead, but this piece is excellent for setting the stage for what it was like to climb the mountain back then. It paints such a different picture from what we’re accustomed to today when hundreds of people flock to the mountain and traffic jams are the norm. If you want to reflect on a different era in Everest mountaineering, you’ll definitely get your chance in the months ahead.