New York, Apr 28: A team of mountaineers are making a historic trek to the top of Mount Everest via the notorious West Ridge, and they’re live-blogging their ascent to help public get the feel of it all.
The expedition, sponsored by National Geographic and The North Face, honours the 50-year anniversary of the historic 1963 climb that sent the first Americans to reach Everest’s peak.
The team led by The North Face athlete Conrad Anker and climber/photographer Cory Richards, began the journey in late March, hoping to re-create the feat.
But this time, the climbers are equipped with iPhones, and are clicking photos and sending real-time updates as they go. Viewers can follow the excursion as if they’re part of the team.
Many of the photos from the mountain were taken with the help of Instagram app, giving a vintage aesthetic to the climb.
Regular updates, videos and photos are being posted on National Geographic’s “On Everest” field test blog, along with 50-year-old images from the original expedition.
Swiss-born climber Norman Dyhrenfurth led the 1963 expedition.
Nineteen Americans along with a large group of Sherpas and porters set out on the ‘American Mount Everest Expedition.’
They became the third team to ever summit the mountain, said Rebecca Martin, director of the expeditions council at National Geographic.
American mountaineer “Big Jim” Whittaker was the first to reach the peak, and planted an American flag at the summit, National Geographic reported.
Climber Lute Jerstad was the first to shoot film of the mountain. The climbers returned home to fame, and were awarded the Hubbard Medal by President John. F. Kennedy.
According to National Geographic their success came at a cost, as Bishop and Unsoeld lost nearly all their toes to frostbite, and one young climber, Jake Breitenbach of Wyoming, was killed by an icefall before reaching the top.
The West Ridge route up Everest has a reputation for being extraordinarily dangerous, and is rarely travelled even today.
“It’s still considered to be extremely cutting edge and bold,” the New York Daily News quoted Martin as saying.
“The West Ridge has a sort of image of being very risky,” Martin said.
There have been 11 deaths and 17 summits on the route, she revealed.
Today better gear and advanced technology have mitigated some of the risks of high-altitude mountaineering, Martin said. But the 8,000-meter peaks are not to be taken lightly.
“The most positive outcome, bar none, is everybody returning with all their fingers and toes. And the summit is second,” she said.
“It’s all about calculated risk. Highly calculated risk,” she said.
The team began the journey in late March. As of Thursday they were at Camp 2 with the goal of climbing to Camp 3 or 4 before returning to base.
Mountaineers climb to the higher camps to acclimate their bodies to the altitude, and return to base to monitor their health before ascending again.
There are four camps on the way to the summit. The window to reach the summit is likely to be mid-May to early June, Martin said. (ANI)