Everest Two Ways

This past Wednesday marked with the sixtieth anniversary of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s first summit of Mt. Everest. We asked Jimmy Chin, a National Geographic photographer, as well as a climber and a skier, and Conrad Anker, a famous mountaineer who discovered George Mallory’s body on the mountain during one of the most significant recent expeditions to Everest, to share a selection of their photographs. (Nick Paumgarten writes about another alpinist, Ueli Steck, in the magazine this week.)

“Every year around April and May, stories from Everest begin to trickle into the public conscience,” writes Jimmy Chin. “This spring is no different, with news about Everest in National Geographic, Outside magazine, and the International New York Times, and on CNN. Everest sells. I’ve made four trips to the mountain. I’ve only made it to the top twice. (That’s not false modesty, I know plenty of people with far more ascents.) People often ask me why I undertake the climb. It’s a perfectly reasonable question without a perfectly reasonable answer. Everest draws a very eclectic group—climbers, dreamers, mad men, and trophy hunters. People’s motivations are diverse, and I’ve learned not to question or judge them.”

Here’s a slide show of images from both climbers. First are Jimmy Chin’s spectacular mountain vistas (with captions by Chin), followed by Conrad Anker’s candid iPhone snapshots. Below is a Q. and A. with Anker.

Click on the red arrows arrows3.jpg for a full-screen view.

Everest Two Ways

1 of 22

  • JimmyChin-01.jpgIn 2004, I followed the Sherpas known as “icefall doctors” on an early trip through the notoriously dangerous and unpredictable Khumbu Icefall. Every year, this special team finds the route, places the ladders, fixes ropes between base camp and Camp 1 for the hundreds of commercial climbers attempting the mountain. These Sherpas also maintain the route throughout the pre-monsoon commercial climbing season. It is one of the most dangerous jobs on the mountain. Photograph by Jimmy Chin.
  • JimmyChin-02.jpgFor the filming of “The Wildest Dream,” Conrad Anker and Leo Houlding were outfitted with the same clothing and boots used by Mallory and Irvine in 1958. Using climbing equipment from that period, Conrad and Leo approach base camp below the North Face of Everest. Photograph by Jimmy Chin.
  • JimmyChin-03.jpgShapes, sizes, and distances can be deceiving in the Himalayas. Here the layers of snow look as though they are stacked on top of each other but, in fact, they are huge crevasses separated by snow bridges spread out over half a mile. Photograph by Jimmy Chin.
  • JimmyChin-04.jpgWe chose to ski what we considered the skiers’ line, rather than the line of ascent. After summiting the day before and spending a second night above eight thousand metres, we woke up on October 19, 2006, pried our frozen feet into our frozen boots, and skied toward the icy five-thousand-foot fifty-degree abyss. I snapped four images during the two-hour descent. This is one of them. Photograph by Jimmy Chin.
  • JimmyChin-05.jpgKit DesLauriers getting ready to “drop in” off the summit of Everest. We had chosen to climb and ski in the post-monsoon season for better snow conditions, so we were the only team on the mountain at the time. Photograph by Jimmy Chin.
  • JimmyChin-06.jpgAfter skiing a few hundred feet from the summit, I caught up to Kit and Rob DesLauriers at the Hillary Step. I took two pictures here, basically identical. Photograph by Jimmy Chin.
  • JimmyChin-07.jpgThree ravens and Everest. This is Everest’s North Face, as seen from Tibet.
  • JimmyChin-08.jpgThe Rongbuk Monastery sits in the shadow of Everest, at seventeen thousand feet. Photograph by Jimmy Chin.
  • JimmyChin-09.jpgMy first expedition to Everest was with Stephen Koch, who had already snowboarded six of the seven highest summits on each continent. After several months of acclimatization climbs on nearby peaks, we failed part way up the face, due to avalanche conditions. I snapped this picture of Stephen on our way down. Photograph by Jimmy Chin.
  • JimmyChin-10.jpgLenticular above Everest. Photograph by Jimmy Chin.
  • JimmyChin-11.jpgDave Hahn and Rob and Kit DesLauriers climbing above the Balcony at sunrise, with Makalu in the background. Temperatures were so cold that my shutter was frozen shut for most of the climb. Photograph by Jimmy Chin.
  • JimmyChin-12.jpgKit and Rob DesLauriers climbing at twenty-nine thousand feet, just below the summit of Everest. Photograph by Jimmy Chin.
  • ConradAnker-01.jpgPhotograph by Conrad Anker.
  • ConradAnker-02.JPGPhotograph by Conrad Anker.
  • ConradAnker-03.jpgPhotograph by Conrad Anker.
  • ConradAnker-04.JPGPhotograph by Conrad Anker.
  • ConradAnker-05.jpgPhotograph by Conrad Anker.
  • ConradAnker-06.JPGPhotograph by Conrad Anker.
  • ConradAnker-07.jpgPhotograph by Conrad Anker.
  • ConradAnker-08.JPGPhotograph by Conrad Anker.
  • ConradAnker-09.JPGPhotograph by Conrad Anker.
  • ConradAnker-10.JPGPhotograph by Conrad Anker.

How many times have you climbed Everest?

Three. In 1999, from the North Side on the Mallory Discovery expedition; in 2007, from the North Side climbing the Second Step Free; and in 2012, from the South Side, without the aid of oxygen tanks.

Other than being the world’s tallest mountain, what distinguishes Everest from other mountains you’ve climbed?

As a three-sided pyramid, Everest has a very powerful shape. It also has a great community of climbers, from my Sherpa friends to the international mix of alpinists.

Have you seen the mountain change over the years?

In the past ten years, the glacier and high-angle cryosphere has shrunk, due to climate change.

Anything additional you’d like to share about these photos?

The images were all taken with an iPhone. As an amateur photographer, I seldom carried a large camera into the mountains. The smartphone has music, reading, movies, your contact list, and a camera.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s