The West Ridge of Everest Willi Unsoeld Mountain World 1963


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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 15, 2012 - 06:13pm PT
An interesting account of the 1963 West Ridge of Everest climb written by Willi Unsoeld which appeared in The Mountain World 1964/65. The Mountain World was published by the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research and is a great source of alternative accounts of major ascents like this one. Fun to read Willi's perspective.


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 15, 2012 - 06:18pm PT
A wonderful achievment that did not get nearly the acclaim that it deserved.
It's cooled off.....heading to the Black, see you later!

Trad climber
Jul 15, 2012 - 06:23pm PT
Back when men were men and Everest was really a mountain.

Willi was one of my hero's since I was maybe 10.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 15, 2012 - 06:25pm PT
I wish Willi was still around to talk about this great adventure but this account will have to do.

Have fun Jim!

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jul 15, 2012 - 06:47pm PT
What a fine human being. As hard as it is to believe I recall being totally
tongue-tied meeting him for the first time. I just basked in his glow.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 15, 2012 - 08:22pm PT
A nice combination with Hornbein's "Everest: The West Ridge", one of my favouritest mountaineering books. A very stout effort. It's interesting that the Chinese, on the NE ridge of Everest in 1960, and then the American on the west ridge in 1963, were doing things of a difficulty that wasn't really approached on other 8,000 m peaks for some years afterward, apart from the Abruzzi Ridge on K2.
the goat

north central WA
Jul 15, 2012 - 08:51pm PT
Nice post Steve. The W. Ridge and Tom Hornbein came up in a conversation

just a few days ago, basically about how great an achievement it was for

the time, hell, even now!. And, the relative anonymity in which Tom and

Willi lived after such an outstanding achievement. We all know who got the

press and praise, deserved or otherwise.

What's important is that the climbing community continue to appreciate what

they did and recognize it. Bishop and Jerstad

also deserve much recognition, tough guys for sure.

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Jul 15, 2012 - 08:55pm PT
unsoeld's book on this matter sits near my shitter.
i've so much to learn from my predesessors.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 15, 2012 - 09:01pm PT
The picture of commitment Sierra Club Bulletin October 1967,

The companion W.H.Murray quote.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jul 15, 2012 - 09:31pm PT
A group of Bay Area climbers headed over to SF Airport to send them off. Man that seems like a million years ago.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jul 15, 2012 - 10:07pm PT
Absolutely one of the great achievements of Himalayan mountaineering. It boggles my mind how much out there those guys were. TFPU.

Jul 15, 2012 - 10:28pm PT
An amazing climb that has yet to see a repeat. Hats off to Tom, Willi and the entire team. Sherpa sons and grandsons of the '63 AMEE are still working on (or in conjunction with) the mountain. A few images from the same mountain 49 years later.

Thanks Steve for your continuing contribution to all matters historical.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 15, 2012 - 10:34pm PT
Thanks, Conrad. Has no one ever repeated the 1963 west ridge route, from the western cwm up? IIRC, various parties have used the Hornbein Couloir, but none via the original approach to the west shoulder.

Jul 15, 2012 - 10:45pm PT
Pretty sure that is the case. The Japanese Couloir to the Hornbein from the Central Rongbuk in Tibet has seen several ascents. The West Shoulder via the Khumbu Glacier with the traverse to the South Col in Nepal still awaits. Way ahead of their time, they were.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jul 15, 2012 - 11:06pm PT
Thanks much Steve and Conrad.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
Jul 26, 2012 - 11:21am PT
It was a long time back, but thanks for the memory jog, guys.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 18, 2012 - 08:51pm PT
Classic Willi bump...
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Feb 12, 2013 - 10:19pm PT
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 14, 2013 - 02:41pm PT
How did the AAC Everest reunion go?

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 14, 2013 - 05:44pm PT
The American Mountaineering Museum held the annual gala last
weekend, and placed two of the '63 Everest expedition into
their Hall of Mountaineering Excellence--Norman Dyhrenfurth, the leader,
and the late Barry Corbet. Attendees included Dr. Thomas Hornbein, Dr. Dave Dingman, Dick Pownall, and Al Auten.
Other Honorees included Jeff Lowe, (Yay Jello)!!!, Peter Metcalf, and
Nick Clinch, who led the expedition of Americans climbing their first
8,000 meter peak, Hidden Peak.
There was a preview of the Everest '63 movie that will premier at Mountainfilm in Telluride this year, and a conversation between the
four Everest attendees--quite a special night, indeeed!

(the only reason this dirtbag got in was because he was tending
bar for the patrons)!!!
Below is a link to some photos from the event. . .
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