Yesterday I mentioned the Help For Heroes Expedition to Everest and that it was decided to call it off due the dangers involved, especially for the Support Team, the Sherpas and guides, it was a very bold decision and the right one. It is very easy when in the big mountains to get summit fever and not look at the big picture. That is one of the reasons why there are so many accidents in the Himalayas. It does make me laugh when I hear big mountains classed as a walk. In the Himalayas the objective dangers make up for any easy terrain. Especially at high altitude the body takes a long time to adapt. On our trip we were away for nearly 4 months and had a 3 week acclimatization trek in the Annapurna region. This meant when we arrived at Everest Base in Tibet we were all pretty acclimatised. It was still a long process moving from base at 175000 feet to Advanced base at 205000 feet. There was no ice fall but a long walk of nearly 20 kilometres and an ascent of 4000 feet a big day at altitude. At the beginning we had an intrim camp at 19000 where we spent the night. It is all so varied for each person no one person is the same when it comes to acclimatization. It was great to see the views again of the Himalayas what a place, the huge mountains and the wild scenery make it all worthwhile. The Sherpas are something else and I have never had anything but admiration for these great people, they look after you if you look after them. Great people and a beautiful country. Sometimes I look back and think how lucky I was to have seen such great places and been with so many great people and Sherpas.
To remind one of how dangerous the big mountains can be the Base Camp in Tibet is full of memorials to those who lost their lives. This dates back from the early days of Mallory to more recent times. The memorial above to Pete Boardman and Joe Tasker who died on the Northern pinnacles of Everest in May 1982. These were two outstanding British mountaineers of their day. When they died a trust was set up.
The trust was established to promote literature by providing an annual award to authors of literary works, the central theme of which is concerned with mountains.The prize of £3,000 commemorates the lives of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker and is given to the author or co-authors of an original work which has made an outstanding contribution to mountain literature.
On 17 May 1982 Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker were last seen on Mount Everest attempting to traverse The Pinnacles on the unclimbed North East Ridge at around 8250 metres. Their deaths marked the end of a remarkable era in British mountaineering.Peter and Joe left two legacies. One was their great endeavour, their climbs on high peaks with bold, lightweight innovative methods which included Dunagiri, Changabang, Kongur, Everest and Kangchenjunga. The second and more lasting achievement were the books they wrote and left behind.
This literary legacy lives on through the Boardman Tasker Prize for mountain literature set up by family and friends in 1983. The rules and entry form are available from the website. http://www.boardmantasker.com/
I’ read some of these books maybe 25 years ago, luckily I’ve forgotten them so I don’t mind reading them again. I find (after reading some more contemporary climbing books) that these stories are great – in both the classic British understated way, and in the historic style these guys climbed (ie, team of two, alpine style, new routes after driving overland in an old van from Europe)