Expedition Watch: Climbing the West Ridge of Everest


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Will Unsoeld and Barry Bishop on the West Ridge

The spring 2012 Everest season is in full swing, with teams arriving at Base Camp in preparation for their summit attempts. There are no shortage of planned ascents, and no shortage of places to follow those ascents. Outside has sent senior editor Grayson Schaffer to the mountain, and he's sending back daily dispatches—articles, photos, and videos—on a new Everest page. Eddie Bauer has sent a team led by 13-time summiter Dave Hahn to climb the South Col, and a team led by Jake Norton to climb the West Ridge. The North Face has sent a team led by Conrad Anker and recent Rowell Award winner Cory Richards to climb the West Ridge. Mountain Hardwear has sent athletes Ueli Steck and Freddie Wilkinson to the mountain for ascents they have not completely disclosed. (Alan Arnette has posted a solid summary of the West Ridge on his blog, Grayson Schaffer has posted a nice summary of the three teams mentioned above for Outside, and Explorer's Web has a nice history of the different routes up Everest.) In short, there's a lot going on, and you should follow Schaffer's updates. Here's a quick Expedition Watch on the team he'll embed with at Base Camp.

Who: Jake Norton, Brent Bishop, Charley Mace, David Morton, Dave Hahn, Melissa Arnot, Leif Whittaker

When: Spring 2012

Why: On May 22, 1963, Americans Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld led the first successful summit of Everest via the challenging West Ridge. After the summit, the climbers followed the tracks of Lute Jerstad and Barry Bishop, who had summited via the South Col, down to a bivouac at 28,000 feet. (Weeks earlier, American Jim Whittaker became the first American to summit Everest.) Hahn, Arnot, and Whittaker will attempt to summit via the South Col. Norton, Bishop, and Mace will attempt to summit via the West Ridge. Norton has already summited Everest via the South Col and North Col, and will become the first person to summit the mountain via all three original ridge routes if he is successful on the West Ridge this year. The attempt is part of Norton's larger Challenge 21 project, a plan to climb the three highest peaks on all seven continents in order to raise $2.1 million for Water For People.

Follow Along: Check Outside's Everest page for a variety of expedition updates, photo galleries, and videos. For updates on the Norton and Hahn led expeditions, check out the Born Out There blog. 

Main Sponsor: Eddie Bauer

–Joe Spring

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