It is 35 years ago that Pete Boardman and Joe Tasker went missing on Everst on the then called “Unclimbed ridge” As I was researching for the Moray Mountaineering Club lecture a few years ago , I was sent a photo of one of my heroes Pete Boardman who died on Everest in 1982 on the unclimbed ridge along with Joe Tasker both incredible Himalayan mountaineers. I had met Pete many years ago in the Cairngorms on several occasions and found him such a unassuming person and always ready for a chat. He summitted Everest on the huge South West Face in 1975 and very soon after this climbed the massive West Wall on Changabang with Joe Tasker a massive undertaking for a two-man expedition with no Sherpa support. It was a breakthrough of gigantic proportions in Himalayan climbing at that time.
I was at RAF Kinloss in the Mountain Rescue Team at the time and we were invited along with the Team for the lecture Pete was giving in Elgin to the Moray Mountaineering Club. We were expecting a lecture on Everest by the South West Face, however Pete told us the story of the 2 man ascent of Changabangs West Wall and incredible achievement at the time. He called the lecture “Total Commitment” and it was a wonderful evening and so inspirational. By now Pete was a well-known mountaineer and world class mountaineer yet he still had time to talk to us after the lecture and I went away with dreams as a young man and a trip to the Himalayas.
The Shining Mountain ans incredible story and a must read by every mountaineer.
Pete and Joe both went missing trying the unclimbed ridge on Everest were last seen on the pinnacles at 8000 metres before the weather came in this was May 1982. It was a typical audacious Alpine ascent of an unclimbed ridge on Everest, with no Sherpas just a small team of 4 going lightweight and incredible attempt. Pete and Joe are up there, no one will ever know what happened to them but the cold and not using oxygen at such a height makes this a very hard place to live far less climb to that standard.
When I was out in Tibet in 2001 at Advanced Base Camp on Everest the walk from our advanced Base camp to their camp at 21500 feet is about a mile and the views of the unclimbed ridge are incredible. Very few go there as all are the other expeditions are mainly on the North Ridge. I went out alone on the last day of our expedition and left a dried piece of Heather (brought from home) below this huge ridge and spent some time thinking about Pete, Joe and the others who have been here, what would they have been doing today if they were still alive? What a place to be the only people left were our 6 Sherpas and cook everyone else was gone. We were tidying up this incredible place and stripping the mountain of us much rubbish left by others that we could. I spent an hour here just looking and taking it all in, an incredible experience, one I will never forget.
The memorial stone is at Base camp on the Tibetan side , we tided it up when we were there,it overlooks the huge North face and is so humbling.
History since 1982 Expeditions to the North East Ridge in 1985, 1986 and 1987 failed to reach Boardman and Tasker’s high point. In August 1988, Russell Brice and Harry Taylor succeeded in crossing the Pinnacles, thus completing the unclimbed section of the route, before descending via the North Ridge. They saw no sign of Boardman or Tasker due to heavy monsoon snow cover.
The next expedition on the ridge was in 1992 when a joint Japanese–Kazakh expedition crossed the Pinnacles but were unable to continue to the summit. They found a body beyond the second pinnacle at approximately 8,200m on the Rongbuk side of the ridge. Photographs taken by Vladimir Suviga and sent to Chris Bonington enabled the body to be identified, from the clothing and features, as Peter Boardman.
In 1995 the complete ridge was climbed by a Japanese expedition. They also came across a body which was initially thought to be Joe Tasker. Upon re-examining all the evidence, Chris Bonington concluded that both sightings were of Boardman: “At first it was surmised that this was Joe Tasker, but after carefully comparing the written descriptions and the photographs provided by each expedition, I became convinced that this was the same as the original sighting and therefore that of Pete.”
A sad end to two wonderful mountaineers.