Fiftieth Anniversary of Americans on Everest

The expedition’s equipment was the best gear available in 1963. Photo: Barry Corbet

Surviving members of the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition gather in Richmond, CA on February 23

The American Alpine Club will host a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the successful effort to put the first Americans on Everest. In attendance will be expedition members Allen Auten, Tom Hornbein, and Jim Whittaker all in their eighties, as well as team leader Norman Dyhrenfurth, now in his mid-nineties.

In the words of AAC marketing director Erik Lambert, “On May 1, 1963 Jim Whittaker and Sherpa Nawang Gombu summited Mount Everest. Their ascent stands among the greatest mountaineering feats of all time and secured Whittaker’s place as the first American to summit the highest peak on earth. Their ascent has given inspiration and courage to countless climbers pushing through setbacks to achieve an ultimate goal.

The imposing summit pyramid of Mount Everest. Photo: Barry Corbet

Three weeks later, Tom Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld, part of the same expedition, made the first ascent of Everest’s West Ridge. During their descent via the South Col they survived the world’s highest bivy and made the first-ever traverse of an 8,000-meter peak. Their ascent is the definition of adventure — charting new territory, in great style, on the world’s highest peak. Fifty years later, their visionary climb has been repeated by only a handful of climbers.”

A donation from original team sponsor Eddie Bauer will make the dinner event possible, with a pre-party hosted the night before by Mountain Hardwear. The event is open to the public. Check out americanalpineclub.org for more information and ticket availability.

Read more about the expedition in our recent article Fortune Favors the Bold

— Matt Niswonger

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