The first good weather window of the season suitable for summit successes on Mount Everest is shaping up for this weekend. Expedition operator Imagine Nepal, responsible for rope-fixing from Camp 2 at 6,400 meters to the summit at 8,849 meters this season, announced that its Sherpa team will attempt to secure the last remaining section from the South Col at nearly 8,000 meters to the highest point with fixed ropes this weekend. Some commercial teams are in the starting blocks, the first summit wave is emerging.
Forty-five years ago, Everest was still a lonely mountain. A single team led by Austrian Wolfgang Nairz had received permission to climb the highest mountain on earth. The expedition made history: On 8 May 1978, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler became the first humans to reach the summit without bottled oxygen. Three days later – exactly 45 years ago today – Reinhard Karl also stood at the top. He was the first German on the summit of Mount Everest.
Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler proved that it is possible. 45 years ago today, on 8 May 1978, the South Tyrolean and the Austrian became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest at 8,849 meters without bottled oxygen. However, this did not lead to the fact that the highest mountain on earth would have been approached henceforth predominantly without breathing mask. Rather the opposite is the case: The trend is toward the bottle.
Tom Hornbein did not live to see the 60th anniversary of his pioneering feat on Mount Everest. The legendary climber from the USA died yesterday at the age of 92. On 22 May 1963, Tom had written Everest history together with his compatriot Willi Unsoeld. On that day, the two reached the highest point on earth at 8,849 meters – after a groundbreaking ascent.
Bivouac at 8500 meters
They opened – with bottled oxygen – a new, difficult route that has been repeated only seven times to date. First Hornbein and Unsoeld climbed the West Ridge, then traversed into the upper section of North Face , in strong winds. Via a prominent gully, which has since been called “Hornbein Couloir”, the two climbed upwards, traversed back to the West Ridge and finally stood on the summit in the early evening of 22 May.
The fourth death in the still young spring season is reported from the highest mountain on earth. According to media reports, a 69-year-old retired doctor from the United States, who had ascended to Camp 2 at about 6,400 meters to acclimatize, passed away. He had not felt well when he arrived at the camp and died there a short time later, they said. It is possible that he suffered from high altitude sickness.