Tag Archive for 'Everest'

Beyond the limits: Reinhold Messner

Reinhold Messner, on Aug. 20, 1980. was the first human being to achieve a feat considered impossible by science, climbing Everest (8,848 meters) without the use of oxygen, and then going on to climb all 14 eight-thousands with this approach.

We must remember that limits (Alberto Cei, 2021) are often only mental, and even this statement might sound like rhetoric. However, if we look at the facts, many experiences document how the pursuit of the record, of the absolute proof of value so far never achieved are nothing but the realization of the motto of a famous company that states, “Nothing is impossible.”

Absolute-level sport thrives on these experiences in which the goal is to challenge the impossible, to overcome supposed physical and mental barriers, and to achieve feats deemed impossible; it is not . a coincidence that it is said that records are made to be broken . . it is possible to equip ourselves to achieve this goal by building a sports culture that has this foundation and trains young people to develop a mindset based on this way of being. In these moments we look for .the divergent., as in the Veronica Roth saga, because. they represent the solution and challenge evil knowing that they can succeed even if they will have to struggle without having the certainty of the outcome.

Photo ©: Reinhold Messner Archives.


“Climbing Mount Everest is work for supermen”

On March 18, 1923, an article in the New York Times headlined “Climbing Mount Everest is work for supermen.”

Specifically, the article asked what was the reason for climbing it, given also the failed attempts in 1921 and 1922. The question was posed to George Mallory, who had participated in both expeditions and was preparing to be part of the group that would make a third attempt in 1924. The answer given by the explorer became famous and continues to be famous today exactly 100 years later. In fact, Mallory replied, “Because it’s there.” He was also asked, if the scientific results obtained were not enough. “Yes … but do you think Schackelton went to the South Pole to make scientific observations? He used the observations he made to finance the next trip. Sometimes scientific research is an excuse for exploration. I think it is rarely the reason. Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and no man has ever made it to the top. Its existence is a challenge. The response is instinctive and I think it is part of man’s desire to conquer the universe.”

Reinhold Messner did the impossible

It was October 16, 1986, when Reinhold Messner, then 42 years old, reached 8,516 meters of Lhotse-the fourth highest mountain on Earth-thus completing the ascent of all 14 eight-thousanders, or peaks above 8,000 meters, climbing them first in the world without the aid of oxygen and in complete autonomy.

I think it is unclear to many people the absolute value of Messner’s feat: to have thought, planned and achieved something that no one thought was possible. So impossible that to this day, after 35 years, only 39 mountaineers have managed to accomplish the same feat, make that three women.

These findings give us how little is still known about the relationship between difficulty and performance, especially when we want to examine the subjective perception of difficulty. “Impossible is nothing,” the motto of a multinational sports corporation, on the one hand is false because we will never be able to run as fast as a cheetah but nevertheless it is true that in sports it is said that records are made to be broken and to do so one must surpass that limit beyond which being human no one up to that point has gone.

Such was the case for Roger Bannister, who on May 6, 1954 was the first to accomplish a feat considered impossible by doctors and that was to run the English mile (1,609.23 meters) under 4 minutes (3′59″4). His record lasted just 46 days: the Australian John Landy took it to 3′58″, which was possible because Bannister had unhinged an insurmountable door beyond which all have passed, and he summed up his feat in these few words:

The secret is always that, the ability to pull out what you don’t have or what you don’t know you have.

The same was true for Reinhold Messner when, on August 20, 1980, he became the first man to accomplish another feat considered impossible by science, climbing Everest (8,848 meters) without the use of oxygen, and then going on to climb all 14 eight-thousanders with this approach. The experiences of these athletes seem to support the value of goal effectiveness, as a mediator between difficulty and performance and consisting of the personlea belief that one can achieve the set goal. So the choice of difficulty level will depend on how comfortable an athlete is with choosing moderate or high difficulty goals, and this will depend on how convinced he or she feels in the two conditions.

The air clean shows the Everest from Kathmandu

The reduction of vehicular emission due to the COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned the air over Nepal and northern India. So much so that the Himalaya is visible from Chandigarh, Kangchenjunga is visible from Siliguri. And for the first time in many years, Mt Everest can be seen again from Kathmandu Valley even though it is 200km away.

Anniversary of the Everest conquest without oxygen

Historical event today, May 8, 1978 Austrian climber Peter Habeler and Italian Reinhold Messner are successful in climbing Everest for the first time without supplementary oxygen. Till that today this result was thought impossible for a human person.

Photo credit: Rupert Taylor-Price/Flickr

Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler in 1978. Image via outdoorteam.at

Mount Everest as seen from Base Camp 1. Photo credit: Rupert Taylor-Price/Flickr




The amazing Sherpa’s story

Climbing Mt Everest with a mountain on my back. The amazing Sherpa’s story – BBC documentary 2013 Nepal. 

Every year, over a thousand climbers try to reach the summit of Mount Everest, with the annual record for successful attempts currently standing at 633. But of that number, nearly half were Sherpas – themountain’s unsung heroes. Yet the Sherpa community has remained secretive about their nation, culture and experiences living in the shadow of the world’s highest mountain. Now, for the first time, they open the door into their world.

Without the expertise of the Sherpas, only the hardiest and most skilful climbers would succeed. Every day they risk their lives for the safety of others, yet they seek neither glory nor reward, preferring to stay in the background. Following the stories of four such Sherpas – Phurba, Ngima, Ngima Tenji and Gelu – this film reveals the reality of their daily lives, not just up the mountain, but with their families after they return home.



Jump down from Everest

Joby Ogwyn isn’t summiting Mount Everest for the view from the top—he’d rather take it in on his way down. The 39-year-old plans to jump off the world’s highest peak and soar to the ground in a nylon wing-suit come May. “This is something I dreamed about as a little kid,” he says. ”Everything I’ve done for the last 20 years has been practice for this and now the technology has made flight possible.” He added: “Everest is the ultimate, it’s the pinnacle, the biggest stage in the world. I can’t think of anywhere better to make the ultimate mega-jump of all time. I’ve done most of the things I wanted to do and this is the blasting cap at the end.” Within the rarified worlds of both mountain climbing and extreme skydiving Ogwyn, 39, is already a legend. If anyone can jump safely off a mountain he can. In 2008 he climbed Everest in just nine and a half hours when it usually takes a least three days. He has practiced by flying his wingsuit around the Matterhorn, and jumped off the Eiger three times in one day. Fine tuning of the suit is happening at Perris airfield in California before he sets out for the Himalayas.

Elia Saikaly – Time-Lapse Film of Mount Everest

Elia Saikaly – How I Made my Time-Lapse Film of Mount Everest

Everest: 60 years of conquest and controversy

Great publication with a lot statistic data regarding the 60 years from the Everest conquest on: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/may/28/everest-60-years-mountaineering-interactive?CMP=twt_gu and http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/gallery/2013/may/23/mount-everest-first-successful-ascent-in-pictures?picture=409252599#/?picture=409252588&index=16

1953 Everest team members return to Camp IV

Griff Pugh: The man who really conquered Everest

By Steve Myall

Daughter of physiologist who helped Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay  to conquer Everest reveals extraordinary story of survival.


British Expedition: Physiologist Griff Pugh (circled) with the team in May 1953.

 British Expedition: Physiologist Griff Pugh (circled) with the team in May 1953.

(The Granger Collection / TopFoto
It seemed an impossible dream… team after team of brave adventurers had tried and failed to ­conquer Mount Everest.

But 60 years ago, on the eve of the Coronation, news came through that delighted the whole of ­Britain – Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had, finally, reached the snowy peak of the world’s highest mountain.

It was an amazing achievement by undoubtedly brave men. But why did they succeed where so many had failed?

One reason has, until now, ­remained hidden to history. The success of Sir Edmund and his team was, in fact, due to the work of a man who himself never reached the summit.

He was Griff Pugh, the physiologist on the trip. His daughter, Harriet ­Tuckey spent eight years researching the expedition and her father’s role in it. Here she reveals how the greatest achievement in mountaineering came to pass.

Mount Everest
Mount Everest: Peak is 8,848m above sea level. (BBC)


Between 1921 and World War Two seven major British expeditions had tried to scale Everest… and failed.

Although six men reached 28,000ft (8,500m) in 1924 – a thousand feet below the summit – they were ­unable to climb higher.

There were two reasons for their difficulties. The first was that Britain then controlled and restricted access to the mountain.

This meant our climbers faced no competition and, extraordinary though it may seem by today’s standards, they believed aids such as bottled oxygen were “unBritish” and “unsporting”.

Traditionally Everest had always been climbed from the north, through Tibet, as it was thought there was no climbable route up the mountain from ­Nepal.

But in 1951 – after Western climbers were stopped from using Tibet by its ­Chinese occupiers – a British climbing team found a way up via ­Nepal.

They applied for permission to use that way the next year but, to their horror, found the Swiss had already had a crack at the climb, getting further up than anyone ­before them.

Unlike the British, the Swiss team had consulted specialist ­physiologists and used purpose-built oxygen ­equipment.

The worried British got permission to climb in 1953 ­knowing the French planned a similar expedition in 1954, and the Swiss another in 1955.

They then sent a training expedition to the Nepalese mountain of Cho Oyu to test the theories of Pugh, who said the appliance of science would make the crucial difference.

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
Tough Climb: Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay below the South Summit on Everest. (Alfred Gregory)


 At the dizzying heights near Everest’s summit the air is thin and breathing is difficult.

But while oxygen equipment for climbers had been available since 1922, in the years before their successful attempt, the British considered ­artificial aids “unethical”.

The majority of climbers also feared the weight of the apparatus cancelled out any potential benefits.

Oxygen was not the only problem. Everest climbers were terribly afflicted by cold and thought some frostbite was unavoidable.

Climbers also suffered from extreme exhaustion, disturbed breathing, headaches, loss of appetite, rapid weight loss, sleeplessness, persistent coughing, sore throats and stomach problems. All these sapped their strength, undermining their chances of success.

They were unable to recover from fatigue and their strength was further undermined by extreme dehydration which they did not understand.

Climbing teams returned from high altitude thin and haggard – mere ghosts of their former selves.

There was also the problem of diet. Climbers at high altitude lost their ­appetites and suffered drastic weight-loss and stomach upsets.

Time and again, the strongest men were stopped in their tracks long before they could reach the summit of Everest, or indeed the summit of any of the 10 highest mountains in the world. It was these problems that needed to be solved before anyone would reach the top.

In 1952 on Cho Oyu little changed in the British approach.

The team was led by experienced but disorganised Eric Shipton who doubted Griff Pugh’s ­theories on acclimatisation and oxygen use.

But the next year he was replaced by Army officer John Hunt, who was known for his excellent organisational abilities – and Pugh was given the freedom to get to work his own way.

His four-week programme of ­acclimatisation and ­lessons in oxygen use ensured the men were better ­prepared and fitter than any previous team.

He told the climbers how much to drink, made their stoves more efficient and worked out how much fuel would be needed to melt snow for drinking water.

Pugh improved the food too, after first working out the energy costs of carrying it.

He then came up with ­complex dietary principles for high-altitude climbing – which included special treats – which are still followed today.

To top it all, he designed high-altitude boots and wind-proof suits, modified the snow goggles, tents and sleeping bags – and designed special air beds for sleeping on.

Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary
Good Job: Tenzing and Hillary drink a celebratory cup of tea. (George Band)


 As with all high altitude climbs, the men had a series of camps.

Hillary and ­Tenzing spent the night before their summit assault sheltering in their “high ridge camp” in a tent made of the fabric chosen by Pugh.

They started up their cooker (made to Pugh’s specifications) and finding it “worked like a charm” brewed “large amounts of lemon juice and sugar”.

After a “satisfying meal out of our store of delicacies” – from the special high-altitude ration boxes devised by Pugh – they retired for the night using sleeping oxygen (under the expert’s oxygen policy), resting on air mattresses also developed specially.

After getting up at 4am they brewed still more sweetened lemonade because Pugh had told them that being dehydrated was the biggest threat to their ability to keep going.

Then they set off and, thanks to Pugh’s work and their level of fitness, found the final climb took only five hours. In fact, they returned from their historic mission in far better condition than any previous Everest assault pair.

Hillary and Tenzing got all the glory. But their magnificent achievement was also a huge success for Pugh. It showed that his ideas really worked.

Despite this, his diary contains only the simple entry: “2pm. Hillary and Tenzing arrive back in camp from the south col after successful ascent of Everest”.

Tenzing Norgay
Everest Conquered: Tenzing Norgay reaches the summit at on May 29, 1953. (Edmund Hillary)


Despite the huge role played by Pugh, his contribution was not made public. Team leader Hunt said: “It’s men who climb mountains, not equipment.” A romantic tale of heroism and ­adventure was far more interesting to people than advances in science and technology.

But in the climbing ­community, Pugh’s innovations were immediately studied and copied.

Within three years, the world’s six highest mountains had all been climbed in relative safety.

Within five years, only two peaks above 8,000m remained and one proved completely inaccessible.

Pugh’s later work in hypothermia led to the creation of much of the lightweight outdoor clothes used today.

And his studies into the effects of altitude on the human body still ­influence professional athletes.

But while climbers often talk about this extraordinarily period in ­Himalayan climbing many are still blind to Pugh’s achievements, attributing the successes to a sudden blossoming of skill, courage and ­fortitude.

But Sir Edmund Hillary knew Pugh’s worth. In an interview shortly before he died in 2008 he told Harriet: “Your father, he, in a way, made it possible for us to climb Everest.”

From: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/secrets-behind-conquering-everest-60-1911119