Climbers aim to replicate tough 1963 Everest climb

Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:00pm EDT
 

By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - A flood of U.S. climbers is taking aim at Mount Everest this year as the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. conquest of the famous peak nears, with one team set to try and replicate the historic ascent along a difficult and rarely used route.

Five U.S. mountaineers climbed the 8,850 meter (29,035 feet) Everest, the world's highest peak, in May 1963. Two went along the untested West Ridge route and three along the traditional South East Ridge route, also known as the South Col route.

This year, two climbers in a nine-member team led by Corry Richards will climb the difficult West Ridge route, while the others will go along the Southeast Ridge route, pioneered by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

Conrad Anker, 49, a member of the team and a two-time Everest climber, said that if weather and physical abilities allowed, both groups would try and meet at the summit.

"That will be the plan," Anker told Reuters before leaving for the mountain in March.

Another American team consisting of four climbers led by James Ryrie Norton will also be on the West Ridge route, Nepal's Tourism Ministry said.

"These two expeditions are trying to replicate what the U.S. team in 1963 did on Everest," said Elizabeth Hawley, Kathmandu-based historian and an unofficial authority on Everest.

Hawley, 88, unofficial arbiter of climbing related disputes and chronicler of Everest climbs, considers the 1963 American ascent to be the biggest Everest milestone after the pioneering feat of Hillary and Norgay because the route is long and so difficult it is rarely used today.   Continued...

 
Mount Everest (C), the world highest peak, and other peaks of the Himalayan range are seen from air during a mountain flight from Kathmandu April 24, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Chong