Historic Everest Expedition Called Off

Trip leader Conrad Anker pulls the plug due to dry, dangerous conditions
Staff Writer

David Breashears

The Hornbein Couloir looking very bare. This photo was taken by David Breashears from a helicopter piloted by climber Simone Moro.

Though summit weather seems to be getting more favorable in general, Conrad Anker announced Tuesday that his National Geographic/North Face team was tossing its plan to climb the historic 1963 American route up Everest’s West Ridge due to unstable conditions. Aerial images taken from a helicopter last weekend revealed the ridge—particularly the Hornbein Couloir—to be, in Anker’s opinion, too dry for safe climbing. 

In a statement on the expedition's blog, Anker wrote, "It’s a very dry and windy season. Normally we have terrain that’s snowy. Your crampons have good purchase, and you can move along at a good clip. But what we have now is that that surface layer of snow has been stripped away, leaving bare ice. It’s very ancient ice that’s difficult to climb on."

By comparison, where the 1963 expedition—led by Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld—climbed through knee-deep snow, Anker said, “We would have had blue ice and then two pitches where it was completely melted out.” He also cited rockfall as a serious danger. If he can iron out his permits, Anker hopes to join the second NG/TNF team, which plans to summit via the Southeast Ridge during the current weather window.

Via Never Stop Exploring.

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