Well, the new climbing season is upon us. In honor of the occasion, National Geographic has created a new webpage where they will follow the progress of the current Conrad Anker/Cory Richards team. At the same time, National geographic has provided some great galleries, showing some older photos of climbers. You can see the webpage here.
The photograph above is from the documentary, The Wildest Dream, where Conrad Anker and Leo Holding tested out the gear used by George Mallory and Sandy Irvine on their doomed ascent of Everest in 1924. It is provided in one of the galleries on the page I linked to above.
For those interested, here are some observations made by Anker regarding Mallory’s clothing during the above trip:
What was the highest altitude you wore the authentic 1924 outfits to?
We wore the period clothing to 7,300m (Everest is 8,848m) – it was pretty cold. Initially, in the development stages of the film, it was like, ‘Well we’ll climb right to the summit in it’. But on the mountain it became too challenging to wear it right to the top and we weren’t prepared to risk our lives.
Was it difficult to climb in the hobnail boots?
Yes it was because the hobnails kept falling out. Wearing boot-leather soles on ice was super slick. At one stage, Leo was worried his toes were frozen. It took about an hour to get the circulation going and that was awful. He knew his career would be over if he lost a toe.
How do you think Mallory and Irvine survived so long in this kind of gear?
The fact that they got as high as they did wearing the clothing they did is the most remarkable aspect of their achievement. My theory was, once you get used to the equipment you acclimatize a little to the local temperature. As long as they were moving it was okay, they were able to thermo-regulate, but as soon as they stopped it was too cold. Some of their team did suffer frostbite on their hands and feet.
Check out the National Geographic webpage. It has a lot of interesting content.