Wade McKoy was drawn to this tortured Patagonian tree "because it looked just like Marge Simpson's hairdo." On their way to Antarctica for a ski- and snowboard-mountaineering expedition on Mount Vinson, he and five friends were waylaid for a week by weather, and they seized the opportunity to drive around southern Chile. Along the road to Torres del Paine National Park, a few of the guys climbed this deciduous oddity and tried swinging from its branches, but it was alpinist Mark Newcomb who did the most convincing job of simulating Patagonian bluster on this calm November afternoon. "He had bark for handholds and used rock-climbing techniques to get up the trunk," explains McKoy, a Jackson, Wyoming-based ski-mountaineering photographer. "Then Mark just dropped to the ground."
McKoy set his 20-35mm zoom lens to f/9.5 and exposed 100-speed film for 1/250 second.
Jeff Botz was on a 35-day trek near Mount Everest in Nepal's Khumbu region when he awoke one morning at 15,000 feet to see that nearby 20,889-foot Taboche was blanketed in fresh snow. "I stepped out of my tent and the view was resplendent, like a giant tooth," says the 54-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina-based landscape photographer.
He shot the peak with a wooden 1960s-era Deardorf eight-by-ten camera and a 480mm lens set at f/64, exposing 400-speed film for 1/15 second.
Jeff Botz was on the flank of Kala Pattar just west of Everest Base Camp when he caught a startling view of the pyramid-like summit of 22,493-foot Ama Dablam, ten miles to the south. "I drew a line on my map directly to the summit so we could search for closer spots to get the identical angle," says Botz.
Two days later he humped 45 pounds of camera gear to a scree slope at 17,000 feet, on Pokalde, and took this photograph of Ama Dablam's northeast face with a 300mm lens, 400-speed film, and his Deardorf set at f/64 for 1/30 second.
Bruce Herrod shot this self-portrait on the summit of Mount Everest on May 25, 1996, not long before the mountain claimed his life. The 37-year-old British photographerpart of the first South African expedition to the world's highest peakhad topped out late in the day, after the rest of his team. He never returned to camp. A year later, a Russian climber discovered Herrod's body dangling upside down from fixed ropes at the foot of the Hillary Step; he had apparently sustained a severe head injury during his descent. The film in his camera provided no answers, only this image of a man in his triumphant final moments.
The 1939 American expedition to K2 was the third team to attempt the 28,250-foot peak on the China-Pakistan border. This photoof an unidentified porter descending the Abruzzi Ridgeand the eight images on the following pages lay virtually forgotten for decades in the Denver home of 91-year-old Jack Durrance, the only member of the expedition alive today. These shots, which were digitally restored earlier this year, have never been published before. Believed to be among the earliest examples of 35mm technology, they show the men of the ill-fated expedition before exhaustion and altitude sickness cost them their summit bidand the lives of one American and three Sherpas were lost. It would be 15 years before Italians Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli made the first successful ascent of K2, in 1954.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: porters crossing the Braldu River on the trek to base camp; Jack Durrance kicking steps to a ridge; Durrance, right, and expedition member Tony Cromwell, second from left, with two unidentified porters; expedition chronicler George Sheldon; climbers in their skivvies preparing to cross the Braldu; from left, Sheldon, team leader Fritz Wiessner, Cromwell, Durrance, and Dudley Wolfe, the first American, and only team member, to die on K2
Team members Chappel Cranmer, left, and George Sheldon near Concordiathe confluence of the Upper Baltoro and Godwin-Austen glacierswith K2 in the background
Last November, Alessandro Beltrami and Ermanno Salvaterra summited Punta Herron, the second of four consecutive peaks, while attempting Argentinian Patagonia's greatest uncompleted prize, the Torre Traverse. Meanwhile, mountain guide Rolando Garibotti, 37, was busy climbing Torre Egger, the third summit in the traverse, with Hans Johnstone. "There's never been an attempt in which two teams were climbing the traverse at the same time," says Garibotti, who's based in Boulder, Colorado. "So we were able to shoot each other climbing at a distance and show the perspective of the human scale and the difficulty of the terrain." Although the November attempt was unsuccessful, nine weeks later, on January 24, Garibotti and American Colin Haley, 23, became the first to complete the Torre Traverse, climbing about 7,000 vertical feet in four days.
THE TOOLS: Canon PowerShot G9 with stock lens, ISO100, f/5.6, 1/1,250 second