1921 to 1953 Expeditions

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Year: 1921
Season: Spring
Leader: Charles Howard-Bury 37 (UK)
Route: West, North and East Sides
Height Reached: 7000m
Members:
Harold Raeburn 55 (UK) Climber leader
Alexander Kellas 52 (UK) Climber
George Mallory 35 (UK) Climber
Guy Bullock 33 (UK) Climber
Sandy Wollaston 46 (UK) Naturalist and Doctor
Alexander Heron 36 (UK) Geologist
Henry Morshead 38 (UK) Surveyor
Edward Wheeler 31 (UK) Surveyor
Ang Pasang Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Garong Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Lagay Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Reason Summit not reached: Route too difficult and lack of strength
Deaths: Alexander Kellas and one porter died on approach march
Official Book: Mount Everest The Reconnaissance 1921 by Charles Howard-Bury

1921 British Mount Everest Expedition Members
1921 Team Members (C) Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Summary:

The first British expedition was organized and financed by the newly formed Mount Everest Committee. It came under the leadership of Colonel Charles Howard-Bury, with Harold Raeburn as mountaineering leader. This expedition was primarily for mapping and reconnaissance to discover whether a route to the summit could be found and if so, climbable from the north side. As the health of Harold Raeburn took a turn for the worse, George Mallory assumed responsibility for most of the exploration to the north and east of the mountain. He wrote to his wife: “We are about to walk off the map…” After five months of difficult, strenuous and hard work climbing around the base of the mountain, George Mallory eventually discovered the hidden East Rongbuk Glacier and its route to the base of the North Col. On the 23rd September, George Mallory became the first person to set foot on the mountain and he, Edward Wheeler and Guy Bullock reached the North Col at 7,020 metres (23,030 ft) before being forced back down due to strong winds. George Mallory took a good look at the route up the North ridge intersecting the North East Ridge and from there to the summit, it looked long, but could be feasible for a fresher party. During this expedition they had seen that the best time for a summit bid would be April-May before the monsoon season.

Year: 1922
Season: Spring
Leader: Charles G Bruce 56 (UK)
Route: North Col – North Face
Height Reached: 8320m
Members:
George Mallory 35 (UK) Climber
Edward Strutt 48 (UK) Deputy expedition leader and Climber
George Finch 33 (Australia) Climber
Edward Norton 38 (UK) Climber
Henry Morshead 39 (UK) Climber
Howard Somervell 32 (UK) Climber
Arthur Wakefield 46 (UK) Climber
John Noel 32 (UK) Photographer and movie maker
Tom Longstaff 47 (UK) Expedition medicine
Geoffrey Bruce 25 (UK) Translator and organisational tasks
Charles Morris 26 (UK) Translator and organisational tasks
Colin Crawford 31 (UK) Translator and organisational tasks
Tejbir Bura (Nepal) Gurkha officer
Chettan Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Dorje Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Lhakpa Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Norbu Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Pasang Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Pema Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Sange Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Temba Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Reason Summit not reached: Route too difficult and lack of strength
Deaths: Dorje Sherpa, Lhakpa Sherpa, Norbu Sherpa, Pasang Sherpa, Pema Sherpa, Remba Sherpa, Sange Sherpa killed in avalanche below North Col
Official Book: The Assault On Mount Everest 1922 by Charles Bruce

1922 British Mount Everest Expedition Members
1922 Team Members (C) Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Summary:

The second expedition conducted by British climbers took place in 1922 by General Charles Granville Bruce, with Lt-Col. Edward Lisle Struttacting as the expedition leader. George Mallory, who had previously attempted the summit unsuccessfully, was back again, this time with the intention of reaching the peak. Not only this, but it was also to be the first expedition to take place only with the aid of bottled oxygen. On the 22nd of May, the expedition managed to reach a very impressive 8,170 m of the North Ridge before deciding to retreat. The very next day, George Finch and Geoffrey Bruce attempted the same challenge, and reached 8,320 m. This was to be the first time that bottled oxygen was used on an expedition. A very short while after, on the 7th of June, the infamous George Mallory was caught in a dramatic avalanche which claimed the lives of seven Sherpa’s. These were to be the first reported fatalities on Everest, but certainly not the last. Despite the fact that this particular expedition claimed the lives of those highly experienced Sherpa’s, they did manage to set a new world record by reaching 27,000 ft. up the mountain.

Year: 1924
Season: Spring
Leader: Edward F Norton 40 (UK)
Route: North Col – North Face and North Col – North Ridge
Height Reached: 8570m
Members:
George Mallory 37 (UK) Climber
Bentley Beetham 37 (UK) Climber
Geoffrey Bruce 27 (UK) Climber
John de Vars Hazard 38 (UK) Climber
Theodore Somervell 34 (UK) Climber
Andrew Irvine 22 (UK) Climber
Noel Odell 33 (UK) Climber
John Noel 34 (UK) Photographer and movie maker
Richard Hingston 37 (UK) Expedition doctor
Edward Shebbeare 40 (UK) Transportation officer and interpreter
Man Bahadur (Nepal) High altitude worker
Shamsher Pun (Nepal) Camp manager
Reason Summit not reached: Abandoned after the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine
Deaths: George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappeared and Man Bahadur Gurkha and Shamsher Gurkha died of illness
Official Book: The Fight For Everest 1924 by Edward Norton

1924 British Mount Everest Expedition Members
1924 Team Members (C) Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Summary:

In 1924, the British expedition was led by Brigadier-General Charles Bruce. Unfortunately, Bruce was unable to continue as expedition leader due to malaria, thus leaving the responsibility to Lt-Col. Edward Norton. After this, George Mallory was instated as the climbing leader. It was the 2nd of June when George Mallory and Charles Bruce made their first attempt at reaching Everest’s summit. The two set off from the North Col with the full intention to make it to the top. However, it was not to be. A combination of severe weather, exhaustion and problems with porters, the climb was abandoned and they returned to base camp on the North Col. On the 4th of June, Somervell and Norton decided that they would make the brave attempt at a climb to the summit without oxygen due to the very good conditions. Unfortunately, Somervell had to abandon the trek due to medical issues, although he did reach 28,000 feet. Despite the fact that Norton had lost his partner, he decided to carry on. He managed to reach 28,126 ft., a mere 900 feet from the summit before he had to give it up due to exhaustion. On the 8th of June, determined to reach the peak, Mallory and Irvine started there ascent at 26,900-ft with the help of oxygen equipment that had been modified by Irvine. Odell, a support climber below the pair had noted that he had spotted Irvine and Mallory at the base of the final pyramid. Sadly, this was the last time that the two climbers were ever seen again. To this day it still remains unknown as to whether or not they successfully reached the summit, or whether they perished on the way up.

Year: 1933
Season: Spring
Leader: Hugh Ruttledge 48 (UK)
Route: North Col – North Face
Height Reached: 8570m
Members:
Edward Shebbeare 49 (UK) Deputy leader and transport officer
Eugene Birnie 32 (UK) Climber
John Boustead 43 (UK) Climber
Thomas Brocklebank 24 (UK) Climber
Colin Crawford 42 (UK) Climber
Jack Longland 27 (UK) Climber
Frank Smythe 32 (UK) Climber
Eric Shipton 25 (UK) Climber
Lawrence Wager 29 (UK) Climber
Geogre Wood-Johnson 27 (UK) Climber
Percy Wyn-Harris 29 (UK) Climber
Charles Greene 32 (UK) Medical officer and climber
William McLean 33 (UK) Medical officer and Climber
William Smijth-Windham 22 (UK) Radio operator
E. C. Thompson (UK) Radio operator
Pasang Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Rinzing Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Tewang Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Tsering Tarke Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Ajiba Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Nima Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Pasang Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Tenzing Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Tshering Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Tshering Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Dawa Thondup Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Dawa Tshering Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ila Kitar Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Jigme Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Kipa Lama Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Kitar Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Kusang Namgyal Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Lhakpa Chedi Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Lhakpa Tenzing Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Lobsang Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Narsang Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Nima Dorje Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Pasang Kikuli Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Pasang Phutar Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Phurba Tenzing Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Wangdi Nurbu Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Reason Summit not reached: Route too difficult and lack of strength
Deaths: None
Official Book: Everest 1933 by Hugh Ruttledge

1933 British Mount Everest Expedition Members
1933 Team Members (C) Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Summary:

The Mount Everest Committee gave £5,000 towards the costs of the expedition, which were estimated at £11,000–£13,000. More funds were secured by means of a newspaper deal with the Daily Telegraph, Ruttledge’s book contract with Hodder & Stoughton, and a gift of £100 from King George V. Some companies supplied items of equipment to the expedition at a discount or free of charge. Hugh Ruttledge led the expedition, determined to reach the summit. The group were incredibly sure that they would reach the summit. Despite the fact that oxygen was taken along, the climbers did not use it. The reason for this is that accomplished climbers thought that extra oxygen would be of no benefit to them. Although there were delays on the ascent because of several restrictions such as the weather and also illness among them, the camp was actually placed at a much higher location than the camp that was placed in 1924. The first summit attempt by Lawrence Wager and Percy Wyn-Harris did not exactly go to plan. Their plan was to simply follow the North East Ridge. However, they made a mistake by bypassing the first step rather than going over it. This meant that they were not on course. They then decided to follow the path of Norton from 1924. However, it was decided that this particular route was unclimable, thus leading them to abandon the climb. Many climbers, including Eric Shipton and Frank Smythe have tried to follow the same path, with no success, reaching the same height as Wager and Percy-Wyn. The ice axe belonging to Andrew Irvine that was dropped or put down in 1924 was found by Wyn Harris at a height of nearly 28,000ft and 60ft below the crest of the ridge.

Year: 1934
Season: Spring
Leader: Maurice Wilson 36 (UK)
Route: North Col
Height Reached: 6900m
Members:
Tewang Sherpa (India) High altitude worker
Rinzing Sherpa (India) High altitude worker
Tsering Sherpa (India) High altitude worker
Reason Summit not reached: Maurice Wilson’s death
Deaths: Maurice Wilson died of exposure/frostbite
Official Book: I’ll Climb Mount Everest Alone by Dennis Roberts

Maurice Wilson with his plane Ever-Wrest
Maurice Wilson with his plane Ever-Wrest

Summary:

Perhaps one of the most notable attempts at the Everest summit was that of Maurice Wilson, a well-known British eccentric. Wilson had decided that he was going to tackle the summit by himself, and didn’t let anything stand in his way. Despite the fact that Wilson was not an accomplished flyer, he illegally flew himself from the UK to India. Upon arrival he hiked through Tibet and enlisted the help of some local Sherpa’s. Wilson was not an accomplished climber, nor did he possess any climbing equipment. He had stated that he would reach the summit with spiritual help. Of course, he did not reach the summit at all. Sadly, his body was discovered by another British expedition a year later. It is said that he was found wrapped in a tent. The body of Wilson has been rediscovered on numerous occasions by expeditions from all over the world. They were found (and filmed), readily visible and identifiable, by Gary Speer’s North East Ridge expedition in 1989, and Dr. Lee Meyers and Jochen Hemmleb found human bones in the area as late as 1999. Unlike the body of Mallory, the body of Wilson has decayed due to differences in temperature where he was found. Mallory’s body is still intact to this day, despite him having died a very long time ago.

Year: 1935
Season: Summer
Leader: Eric Shipton 27 (UK)
Route: North Col and West Side
Height Reached: 7000m
Members:
Michael Spender 28 (UK) Surveyor
Lesile Bryant 30 (New Zealand) Climber
Edwin Kempson 33 (UK) Climber
Harold Tilman 36 (UK) Climber
Charles Warren 29 (UK) Climber
Edmund Wigram 24 (UK) Climber
Tenzing Norgay (India) High altitude worker
Pasang Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Rinzing Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Tewang Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Tsering Tarke Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Ang Tenzing Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Tharkey Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Tshering Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ila Kitar Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Jigme Tshering Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Kusang Namgyal Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Reason Summit not reached: Bad conditions, deep snow and avalanches
Deaths: None
Official Book: Attack on Everest by Hugh Ruttledge

1935 British Mount Everest Expedition Members
1935 Team Members (C) Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Summary:

In 1935 Eric Shipton led an exploratory expedition in order to prepare for a planned expedition the following year. This expedition took place during the Monsoon season. During this expedition the climbers explored various different routes in order to better the route. However, after exploring several different routes such as the West Ridge, it was decided that none of them were acceptable. Although they were deemed impractical, Shipton did say that the route from the Western Cwm would have been suitable if there were a way in which they could enter from the Nepalese side. Fast forwarding some years later, this was actually the route that was to be used in the expedition that took place during 1953. Another thing that makes this particular expedition so interesting is the fact that it was the first expedition that Tenzing Norgay was involved in. At the time he was engaged to one of the expedition porters. Members of the party found the body of Maurice Wilson in his tent at Camp III.

Year: 1936
Season: Spring
Leader: Hugh Ruttledge 51 (UK)
Route: North Col
Height Reached: 7000m
Members:
Frank Smythe 35 (UK) Climbing leader
Eric Shipton 28 (UK) Climber
Percy Wyn Harris 32 (UK) Climber
Edwin Kempston 33 (UK) Climber
Charles Warren 30 (UK) Climber
Edmund Wigram 24 (UK) Climber
Peter Oliver 26 (UK) Climber
James Gavin 24 (UK) Climber
Charles Morris 40 (UK) Non climber
Gordon Humphreys 52 (UK) Medical officer
William Smijth-Windham 25 (UK) Radio operator
Tenzing Norgay (India) High altitude worker
Pasang Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Rinzing Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Tewang Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Tsering Tarke Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Ajiba Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Dawa Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Dawa Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Dawa Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Karma Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Tharkey Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Tshering Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Tshering Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Dawa Thondup Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Gyalgen Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ila Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ila Tenzing Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Narsang Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Nukku Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Phurba Tenzing Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Wangdi Nurbu Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Reason Summit not reached: Bad Weather, storms and high winds
Deaths: None
Official Book: Everest The Unfinished Adventure by Hugh Ruttledge

1936 British Mount Everest Expedition Members
1936 Team Members (C) Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Summary:

Hugh Ruttledge was selected as leader for his second expedition. This expedition saw some old faces and many new ones, making it the largest attempt on Mount Everest so far. Although the North Col was reached, a combination of high winds, storms and waist-deep snow made any progress above 23,000ft (7,000m) very difficult and, with the monsoon arriving early, Hugh Ruttledge made the decision to call off the expedition. While on the slopes of the North Col Eric Shipton and Wyn Harris were caught by an avalanche, they both escaped injury. Frank Smythe and Wyn Harris made a reconnaissance of the west side of the North Col and reported that a route could be made there. Also, Frank Smythe was asked not to go cutting steps in the snow so he could say his energy for higher up the mountain. This job was given to Sherpa Rinzing, making it the first time a Sherpa had led on a Mount Everest climb.

Year: 1938
Season: Spring
Leader: H W Tilman 39 (UK)
Route: East Rongbuk Glacier – North Col and North Col – North Face
Height Reached: 8300m
Members:
Eric Shipton 30 (UK) Climber
Frank Smythe 37 (UK) Climber
Noel Odell 47 (UK) Climber
Peter Lloyd 30 (UK) Climber
Peter Oliver 28 (UK) Climber
Charles Warren 31 (UK) Medical officer
Tenzing Norgay (India) High altitude worker
Nurbu Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Pasang Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Rinzing Bhutia (India) High altitude worker
Ang Dawa Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Karma Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Tharkey Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Dawa Tshering Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Gyalgen Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Kusang Namgyal Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Lhakpa Tenzing Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Lobsang Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Nukku Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Phurba Tenzing Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Sonam Tenzing Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Wangdi Nurbu Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Reason Summit not reached: Bad conditions, deep snow and avalanches
Deaths: None
Official Book: Mount Everest 1938 by Howard Tilman

1938 British Mount Everest Expedition Members
1938 Team Members (C) Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Summary:

Having been a member of the 1935 Mount Everest expedition Bill Tilman was this time appointed leader of the 1938 Everest expedition. This was a small but capable party of seven. The plan for this expedition was to attempt an ascent via the North West ridge. Having arrived at Base Camp on the 6th April they did not establish a camp on the North Col until the 26th May, this was due to bad snow conditions and the freezing cold. All the climbers apart from Eric Shipton suffered from ailments related to the severe cold. Eventually they reached over 27,000 ft (8,230 m) without supplemental oxygen before being forced down due to bad weather and deep snow. Both open-type and closed-circuit oxygen was taken on this expedition and it was said that the closed-circuit type was unsuccessful.

Year: 1951
Season: Autumn
Leader: Eric Shipton 44 (UK)
Route: Khumbu Glacier – Khumbu Icefall (recon)
Height Reached: 6000m
Members:
Michael Ward 26 (UK) Climber
Thomas Bourdillon 27 (UK) Climber
Harold Riddiford 30 (New Zealand) Climber
William Murray 38 (UK) Climber
Edmund Hillary 32 (New Zealand) Climber
Pasang Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Nima Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Tharkey Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Reason Summit not reached: Route proved too difficult
Deaths: None
Official Book: The Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition 1951 by Eric Shipton

1951 British Mount Everest Expedition Members
1951 Team Members (C) Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Summary:

In 1951, an expedition led by Eric Shipton took a trip into Nepal. The purpose of this trip was to determine a route to the summit of Everest via the southern face of the mountain. Several notable names took part in this trip, including Edmund Hillary, Tom Bourdillon, Bill Murray and Mike Ward. On September the 30th, the climbers travelled up 20,000 ft. From this height, they noted that they were able to see the Western Cwm. They then determined that actually, it would be possible to ascent via the southern side of the mountain. Once they had determined that this route was possible, they spent a whole four weeks trying to gain access to the Western Cwm via the Khumbu Icefall. Unfortunately, this was not to be, as their path was obstructed by a huge crevasse that was estimated to be between one hundred and three hundred feet wide.

Year: 1953
Season: Spring
Leader: John Hunt 42 (UK)
Route: South Col – South East Ridge
Height Reached: Summit
Members:
Charles Evans 34 (UK) Deputy expedition leader and Climber
Michael Ward 28 (UK) Climber
Edmund Hillary 33 (New Zealand) Climber
Thomas Bourdillon 29 (UK) Climber
Griffith Pugh 43 (UK) Medical officer and Climber
Alfred Gregory 40 (UK) Climber
George Lowe 29 (New Zealand) Climber
Wilfrid Noyce 35 (UK) Climber
George Band 24 (UK) Climber
Michael Westmacott 28 (UK) Climber
Thomas Stobart 38 (UK) Cameraman and Climber
Charles Wylie 33 (UK) Organizing secretary and Climber
Tenzing Norgay (India) High altitude worker
Ang Norbu Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Nyima Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Ang Temba Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Annulu Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Da Namgyal Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Dawa Tenzing Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Dawa Thondup Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Pasang Phutar Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Topke Sherpa (Nepal) High altitude worker
Summit Reached By: Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa on the 29th May
Deaths: None
Official Book: The Ascent of Everest by John Hunt

1953 British Mount Everest Expedition Members
1953 Team Members (C) Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Summary:

The ninth expedition to Mount Everest took place in 1953, led by John Hunt. This particular expedition was a little different in that it was completely organised and paid for by Joint Himalayan Committee. Wilfrid Noyce and Annullu had created a path to the South Col before, and Hunt had chosen two climbing teams to attempt the summit. Charles Evans and Bourdillon were the first pair to attempt the summit, and successfully reached the South summit. However, they were unable to take their expedition any further because they had problems with the equipment that they were carrying, and they were also running out of time. Just two days later, it was the turn of the second pairing; Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. With the aid of standard oxygen equipment, the climbing pair were able to reach the summit on the 29th of May. They had used the South Col route. During their very brief time at the summit of Mount Everest, they stopped to take some photographs and also buried some sweets underneath the snow. Over the years there has been one question that has plagued this huge achievement. Many people were confused as to which out of the two was actually the first to set foot on the summit of Mount Everest. Although there was a lot of speculation, Tenzing stated that it was, in fact, Hillary. Both Edmund Hillary and John Hunt were awarded knighthoods for their achievement, after news of their achievement had reached London on the Queen’s coronation. This was to be one of the most famous expeditions of all time, and is still talked about on a daily basis.

1970 to 1989 Expeditions