Everest — Lhotse, 1956
Everest - Lhotse, 1956
Translated from the German by H. Adams Carter.
The two 1952 Swiss Mount Everest expeditions, on the first of which Raymond Lambert with the Sherpa Tenzing climbed to the highest point yet reached, also had serious scientific objectives. The scientists gathered a wealth of material. The following year the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research planned to send to the region a strictly scientific expedition. However, at that time sufficient financial support and qualified personnel were not available for a completely comprehensive and effective undertaking. Renewed attempts to form an expedition in 1954 and 1955 likewise failed since the scientists in question were mostly busy in the Arctic and other regions.
Meanwhile the mountain climbers had not remained idle. Ernst Reiss was especially interested to reach the yet unattained summit of Lhotse, which he had been able to observe at close range while climbing to the South Col. We were also attracted by the business of climbing Mount Everest, unfinished for the Swiss at least. Even though we had not made the first ascent, we could nevertheless attempt the second.
At a meeting of the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research in the spring of 1955, called by Ernst Feuz and attended by Ernst Reiss, Albert Eggler, and me, the proposed climbing plans took definite shape. Eggler was appointed expedition leader, Reiss leader of the climbing party, and I the oxygen expert. We succeeded in gathering ten mountaineers who possessed not only the necessary technique and Alpine experience but also the sense of comradeship and teamwork developed by years of climbing. The expedition finally consisted of the following climbers: Albert Eggler, expedition leader (43), Wolfgang Diehl, assistant leader (47), Hans Grimm (44), Hans-Rudolf von Gunten (27), Eduard Leuthold, doctor (28), Fritz Luchsinger (35), Jürg Marmet (28), Ernst Reiss (36), Adolf Reist (35), and Ernst Schmied (32). To this group was added as the only scientist available in the summer of 1956 Fritz Müller (30), from Zürich. He had already proved himself as a geomorphologist in various parts of the Arctic.
The first group of six men left Switzerland on January 28, 1956, traveling by air to Bombay and by train across India to Jaynagar. They carried the expedition baggage except for the oxygen equipment, which for technical reasons could be shipped only at the end of February. The leader of the expedition, the doctor, and the scientist followed the first group a month later by plane and joined them at the frontier of Nepal. Together our comrades went on foot through the hills and valleys of Nepal by way of Okhaldunga, Namche Bazar, and Thyangboche to the foot of Mount Everest. On April 7 they reached base camp at 17,900 feet, below the great icefall of the Khumbu Glacier. All were held up for some days in Thyangboche by a severe illness (appendicitis) of Luchsinger, which fortunately turned out all right.
On March 5 the last two, Hans Grimm and I, left Switzerland by air. It was our job to travel after the rest as a self-contained unit with the oxygen equipment, which included 190 cylinders of oxygen. At Thyangboche on April 6 we met the doctor Edi Leuthold and his patient Fritz Luchsinger. The latter’s health was restored so rapidly, thanks to Leuthold’s outstanding medical skill, that on April 14 we were all assembled at the base camp, together for the first time since the end of January.
Base Camp lay on a lateral moraine of the Khumbu Glacier right at the foot of Khumbutse. There was sufficient room for the tents used on the approach march and our mess tents. Out of stone we built a roomy kitchen and a sitting room, where in front of the fire we developed many of our plans of strategy. Fritz Müller, our glaciologist, helped build the Base Camp as a scientific center, for he intended to stay there until the end of the year.
On April 8 the first reconnaissance group set about investigating the icefall. Ernst Schmied succeeded in reaching the Western Cwm on April 12, but was unable to avoid one passage that was threatened by falling ice at the foot of the western shoulder of Everest. In vain did we search during the next few days for a better route through the uppermost gaping crevasses. There was no alternative to using this exposed passage. We were truly lucky that we never had the slightest mishap while ascending and descending every day through the icefall. Blasting removed innumerable threatening séracs, which forced us continually to seek for better and safer routes.
Camp I lay at 19,200 feet, about halfway up the icefall. We placed Camp II at 20,175 feet, right where we emerged into the Western Cwm. On April 23 we established Camp III, our advanced base, at 23,325 feet in the Western Cwm. We strove to bring up as much material as possible to this advanced base. Our Sherpas, hard-working, cheerful, and friendly fellows, carried heavy loads day in and day out up the icefall. We noted with pleasure how our single supply dump continued to grow. As soon as sufficient oxygen equipment had been brought up, there was nothing more to keep us from reconnoitering the Lhotse face.
Camp IV was established on the lowest terrace of the Lhotse face, at 22,800 feet, on May 4. It was time to start using oxygen. The extraordinarily good health of the members of the expedition up to the last day, and very little trouble from frostbite, may to a great extent be attributed to the use of oxygen.
The Lhotse face offered certain difficulties because of its icy condition. At first the route, provided with fixed ropes, led steeply upward over steps cut in the ice, but it became somewhat easier above. On May 6 we considered ourselves sufficiently high, at 24,600 feet, to establish Camp V on a comfortable platform. On the following days Ernst Schmied and Fritz Luchsinger crossed the steep couloir that descends from Lhotse and continued towards the Yellow Band. A difficult, diagonal break in the rocks enabled them to traverse the upper part of the gulley. Together with Sherpas, on May 9 they climbed to the top of the Geneva Spur, where they set up and occupied Camp VI, the Lhotse Camp.
We had made satisfying progress in this first part of May and already had hopes of climbing to one of the summits in the next few days. However, late on the morning of May 10 it started to snow hard, forcing our lead group to descend the avalanche-threatened couloir that same day. When the bad weather continued, all groups were forced to withdraw to the Advanced Base Camp to wait there for it to clear. Some of us even climbed down to Base Camp. The radio report from the Indian weather bureau, declaring that this was the forerunner of a very premature monsoon, caused the barometer of our morale to drop to the lowest point. Was the arrival of the monsoon, nearly a month early, going to bring to nothing all our efforts? As the last straw, our sirdar Pasang Dawa Lama fell ill in Namche Bazar. After an apparent recovery, he returned to Base Camp, where he suffered a serious relapse, so serious in fact that the doctor had to order his immediate removal to lower altitudes. Since our best Sherpas wanted to accompany their sirdar personally back to Namche Bazar, our prospects for a successful expedition were very shaky. Since it seemed unlikely that the sirdar would recover quickly, we transferred this post to Dawa Tensing, who had already distinguished himself on various expeditions, especially on Kangchenjunga.
Late on the morning of May 14 the sun finally burst through the thick gray clouds. Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse beamed in the blinding sunlight, a light of trust and hope. Loads were eagerly made up in Camp III, our Advanced Base. In the past few days loose snow had piled up dangerously on the Lhotse face. While the cutting wind swept this in giant banner-clouds onto the Kangshung slope of the South Col, Luchsinger and Reiss ascended again toward Camp V. They failed to plow through to their buried goal in the deep and tiring snow, and it was only on the next day that Schmied succeeded in reopening the way. Meanwhile von Gunten and Reist had reoccupied Camp IV. On May 16 they climbed on up to Camp V, where they felt so fit that they immediately continued preparing the route over the Yellow Band and up to Camp VI. In fact they climbed beyond, to the top of the Geneva Spur, and were the first members of the expedition to look down onto the desolate, uninviting South Col. After a critical inspection of the conditions then prevailing, they descended to Camp V, where they joined Reiss and Luchsinger. The route had been established even farther than it had been before the monsoon had broken.
On the night of May 16 the wind completely drifted all the steps in again. Undeterred, von Gunten and Reist with five Sherpas made a new set of tracks back up to the Lhotse Camp (Camp VI), which they found snowed-in up to the ridge poles. They dug it out and turned it over in a habitable condition to their companions, Reiss and Luchsinger, who had followed them up. Then only did they descend to Camp III for a well-deserved rest, leaving the field to their comrades, who stayed on alone in the cold and bitter wind.
Even while we were making plans for the expedition at home, it had been apparent that Lhotse offered only one vulnerable spot. Although its ridges and faces were defended by precipitous pinnacles and rock steps which could hardly be climbed at that altitude in any reasonable time, the length of the northwest face was cut by a frightfully steep couloir that led directly to the depression beneath the summit. This couloir had already caught Reiss’s eye in the fall of 1952. Moreover the International Himalayan Expedition in 1955 had planned their ascent of Lhotse up this gulley. However we had not been able to get a clear idea of the conditions in the middle section of the couloir, either from previous expeditions’ reports or from available photographs. Even though generally the avalanche danger seemed slight, we had to be ready for possible surprises. Everything was now ready for them to make their reconnaissance with adequate support behind them, but it was clear to all of us below that our comrades should advance and take the summit by quick assault if the conditions in the couloir were favorable.
Things were bustling early down in Camp III on May 18. It was a brilliant day. We kept our field glasses trained on the Lhotse face, though for a long time in vain. The howling wind on the slopes of Everest grew noticeably stronger and the drifting snow poured like waterfalls valley-wards down hollows and gulleys. From time to time gusts swept snow horizontally over the whole Lhotse face. We knew that a terrific gale must be raging up there in the Lhotse Camp. Nevertheless at half past ten we caught sight of the climbers in the limited field of our binoculars. Laboring against the wind, they slowly beat their way upwards to the lower end of the couloir. Then they rested for a long time on a big rock. Finally they climbed on and at about noon disappeared into the gulley. Any one of us in the lower camps would have been more than willing to relieve our two friends of the task of kicking and cutting steps and of fixing ropes. For the first time we were condemned to leave our companions to their own fate. We were probably more worried about them than they were themselves as they cut their way step by step up the hard snow that lay at an angle between 50° and 60° in the couloir.
After a cold and unpleasant night, the pair had set out at about nine o’clock, unmindful of the violent winds. A few minutes later malfunctioning oxygen equipment forced them to halt. During the night unnoticed moisture had collected in the connecting tube and had frozen instantly when they emerged into the icy air. They tried for a long time to thaw it. Finally they removed repair materials from their rucksacks and replaced the stopped-up tubing. This explained why it was not until eleven o’clock that they had reached the comparative shelter of the couloir.
The technical difficulties, which aside from the extreme steepness were at first not too serious, became greater and greater as the pair reached the midpoint of the couloir. They finally reached the key point, of which we had no previous knowledge. The gulley was interrupted here by a band of reddish rock. For a rope length the snow gulley rose upward only a few feet wide. With hands on both sides, Reiss and Luchsinger worked their way slowly upward, belayed by pitons. The chimney was extremely steep and difficult, but climbable. Finally they could see the upper edge of the seemingly endless couloir. Hopefully they climbed the rock-hard snow, recognizing the neighboring pyramid on the left as the highest point of Lhotse and at last stood below the dismally steep final pitch of the summit cone. The wind tore with renewed energy at their clothing and threatened to rip them from their steps cut in the hard snow. After climbing a band of green rock, they found that only one rope length separated them from the summit. Our watch through the field glasses from Camp III was rewarded when suddenly the form of the summit ridge seemed to change. We still believed we might be mistaken until two dots stepped off the dark rocks onto the bright white of the snow. Reiss and Luchsinger worked their way up the last rope length to the summit. They completed the first ascent of the world’s fourth highest mountain on May 18, 1956, at 2:50 P.M.
While we celebrated in Camp III, our companions stood for some time on the top. The summit cornice was so thin and steep that they could view the imposing expanse of mountains only from a tiny hacked-out platform. They had to be content to touch the highest point with hands alone. After taking a few summit pictures, they descended. (Even at this height you have to consider the mistrust of the world.) Oxygen was exhausted but the masks protected their faces against wind and cold. Towards 6 o’clock they reached Camp VI, which was again completely covered by drifted snow. In the biting cold it took them hours with numbed fingers and toes to make the tent habitable. Early the next morning they descended to Camp V, where the expedition leader greeted them. One can only guess at their feelings of joy, good fortune and relief.
The ascent of Lhotse gave us all courage and inspiration. We just had to climb Everest. While Fritz Luchsinger and Ernst Reiss continued their descent that same day to recuperate at Camp III, the howling wind prevented Ernst Schmied and Albert Eggler, who had stayed on in Camp V, from doing any work. Since nearly all the oxygen up high was used up, Hans Grimm and I climbed that same evening to Camp IV to take over the organization of supply. Our excellent state of acclimatization can be seen from the fact that without undue effort I climbed that evening in exactly one hour from 21,325 feet to nearly 23,000 feet. A strong wind was still sweeping the Lhotse face late in the evening, providing us with grim prospects for the next day.
On the morning of May 20 the raging of the wind on the cliffs of Everest ceased. Day dawned cloudless and clear, perfect for the preparation of the assault. We climbed again and, as it turned out, for the last time up the Lhotse face to Camp V. On our arrival, we found that with his Sherpas Ernst Schmied was already reopening the route to the Lhotse Camp. We hurried forward to join him with as large a supply of oxygen as possible as well as the tents and food needed to establish Camp VII.
The next morning, May 21, we set up oxygen equipment for the Sherpas. Towards noon Albert Eggler and I, with several Sherpas, climbed towards the South Col. Because of the cross-wind at the Lhotse Camp, which was continually being drifted in, we decided to carry Camp VI onto the South Col itself. While doing so, I had the luck to be the first this year to reach the Col and the old camp of the English and the Swiss. For half an hour I stood completely alone in the middle of this gripping desolation, struck first by the singleness of this occasion, where I would tread only once in all my life, and then by the previous history of this world-famed speck of earth. The tent frames still standing but robbed of their sheltering cloth, the confusion of the objects that lay about, and the scudding wisps of cloud painted a picture of loneliness, despair, and fore- sakenness. Yet there, still 3000 feet above me, soared the slender pyramid of Everest.
After Ernst Schmied and Albert Eggler had arrived with the Sherpas, we pitched the tents with ease in the complete calm and were just about to crawl into our sleeping bags when we realized to our horror that the Sherpas had left all of the fuel at the Lhotse Camp, that we had no food whatsoever, and that the bag with the Sherpa oxygen equipment had remained on the south side of the Spur. To make matters worse, the four Sherpas who had stayed up with us went on strike and threatened seriously to descend to Base Camp and to leave us to our fate. We finally managed to persuade my Sherpa Pa Norbu to climb back with me over the Geneva Spur and to fetch at least the Sherpa oxygen equipment so that we could give the mountain-sick porters the soothing gas. All around lay heaps of Meta fuel, left by the English, and also a filled Primus stove. The food which had lain there for three years was in perfect condition. Therefore we could spend one day without further supplies. It was a wearisome way to the old Lhotse Camp and back again, for Pa Norbu and I climbed heavily laden without oxygen. Every twenty yards we set our loads down and panted for breath. We sank into the deep snow; every unrhythmical motion brought on a fit of gasping. Albert and Ernst melted sufficient water, about six and a half quarts, for us three. I worked until late at night, examining the English oxygen cylinders that lay about and provided those that still had oxygen with the necessary attachments to make it possible for us to use them with our equipment. There was not much left, but we did find enough in the cast-off cylinders to be able to sleep for two nights with one liter per minute.
When we awoke on May 23 it was snowing. A momentary feeling of doubt seized us. Towards noon, however, the sun forced its way through the mist and we could see that above us the weather was excellent. The four Sherpas made another trip to the old Lhotse Camp and fetched the necessary fuel, food, and oxygen for the assault. Again we inspected everything; the indicator on the pressure gauge of each oxygen cylinder read 250 atmospheres. Then our column, four Sherpas, Ernst, and I, set off for the steep couloir that would open the route to the South Summit for us. Ernst Schmied, taking on himself as always the hard work of kicking and cutting steps, climbed rapidly ahead. We left the steepening couloir by the rocks to the right of it and two and a half hours after our departure stood by the remains of the bivouac tent in which Lambert and Tenzing had slept the night before they reached their highest point in 1952. The blue sky emerged from the mist, and from time to time when a corridor opened in the sea of clouds, the summit of Lhotse gleamed forth. The wind had, however, picked up and blew powder snow into our faces. Although the Sherpas found this "No good, no good, sahib!” and wanted to leave us, we finally persuaded them to climb an hour higher.
At 5:30 P.M. the ever-increasing gale forced us to camp. A little to the left of the crest of the ridge, at about 27,500 feet, half way between the Swiss camp of 1952 and the English one of 1953, we found a favorable and somewhat sheltered spot. We were able to remove enough snow and rotten rock to set up a Lyon tent.* While the Sherpas descended to the South Col, we climbed into our sleeping bags, fully dressed in mountain trousers, sweater, down trousers and jacket, wind suit and fur boots, pulled our bivouac sacks up to our chins and adjusted the oxygen apparatus. Knowing how essential oxygen was to keep us warm at this altitude, we used it as much as possible while resting.
Outside the gale howled and lashed the snow against the tent. The powder penetrated through every flaw and saved us the worry and bother of going out to get the most important ingredient of our evening meal, snow to melt. Coffee, tuna fish, and crackers made up our supper. We were hardly hungry but made up for food by drinking as much as we could melt on our Butagas stove. We talked about the mountains at home, about climbing, about swimming, and about memories of our youth. Late at night, between wind squalls, we opened the zipper a little to look out at the cloudless skies and far south over the many sleeping valleys and hills of Nepal. The clouds had disappeared. Icy cold night and wind had taken over. We snuggled down, shivering, into our sleeping bags and said good night although we knew that sleep was impossible, for outside the gale, howling in all tones, tore at the tent walls. The tent flapped and snapped, and the snow scudded across only a few inches above our heads. If the tent ripped, it would be a matter of life and death and our chances would be slight. If the oxygen equipment failed, our means of keeping warm would disappear and we would be threatened with freezing. If the storm held on, we should soon run out of fuel and food. Yet we felt not entirely alone. In the lower camps our companions were keeping watch, ready to stake their lives, if necessary, to save ours. I knew that our doctor, Edi Leuthold, would not sleep a wink all night. Thinking thus about our friends was reassuring. But what about the weather? I already felt the boundless disappointment we should feel of we had to climb down from here. One must take fate as it comes. Moreover, an ascent is not the "ne plus ultra"; life has higher goals.
With such thoughts I finally fell asleep to dream of home, of sitting in the best restaurant in Zürich and eating a juicy beefsteak, cream pastry and coffee, until I awoke with a colossal appetite. It was 2:30 A.M. Ernst groaned that he, too, was awake. The snow had drifted so heavily onto the tent that it pressed on his body and would hardly let him move. His oxygen was exhausted and he was suffering from the lack of it. After changing cylinders for him, I removed his air mattress plug to let him down where he could have room enough to breathe. Thus we awaited the dawn.
It was light enough at 4 o’clock to drag myself out of my sleeping bag to shovel the tent clear. As I opened the zipper, the howling wind drove a great fountain of snow into the tent. Below us lay the Lhotse face and the Western Cwm. We could even see out as far as the Indian plains. The prospect of a lovely day made the unpleasant decision to crawl out easier, for the sun was already striking the summit of Lhotse. Makalu and Kangchenjunga glowed in the reddish light of the life-giving sun. Soon its warmth would force its way over the ridge to us.
For two and a half hours I shoveled the snow away from the tent with the top of a tin can, though it seemed more like a half hour. We wanted to prepare breakfast, but found that our gear lay buried under the snow in the front part of the tent. It would take at least an hour to dig out gear and food and another hour to melt snow and heat water for coffee. We knew that we had no extra time and said to ourselves that we should often be able to eat breakfast, but could climb this mountain only once; the summit of Everest was certainly worth one missed breakfast. Without a word we packed our possessions and were ready.
We climbed for an hour over easy but loose rock. The crampons bit well and we advanced fast. What luck! How kind the weather was being! We stripped off our down suits and climbed on in sweater and parka. Still a few wind squalls threatened our balance and nearly choked us with flying snow. We parried them with heads bent low and ice axes driven in. At about noon, after climbing a sharp snow ridge and then an extremely steep but not difficult rock arête, we sat down to rest behind the cornice of the South Summit. To the southwest, toward the Indian plains, clouds boiled and whirled. Huge thunderheads ascended like atomic mushrooms into the blue heavens. The sea of clouds rose higher and higher and soon wisps flew past us. Far below lay pulled-out glaciers with gray-green lakes embedded on their surfaces. In the distance marched row on row of endless hills as far as the eye could see.
During our climb to the South Summit we had been using four liters of oxygen per minute. Just below that point we had removed our oxygen cylinders with still 400 liters in them and replaced them with new ones. To save oxygen, we put the regulator back to two and a half liters per minute as we started towards the final ridge, but this reduction was so noticeable that we had to make frequent halts. Soon a glance at the gauge and a quick calculation showed that with the favorable wind conditions we did not have to be so economical and could confidently use the normal amount. The only problem was the freezing of the oxygen valve at the bottom of the mask. We had doubted its efficiency before leaving Switzerland, knowing the trouble the French had had on Makalu, and were sufficiently forewarned to remedy its inadequacy with replacement parts and a pocket knife.
Before us rose the world’s highest ridge, leading to the "Third Pole." Great cornices, overhanging the cliffs to the right, made the ridge threatening and uninviting. We could assume that the snow, like snow on all ridge tops, would be so windblown and hard that we could advance with relative ease. After another quarter-hour of climbing we saw that our assumption was correct. Rope length after rope length, we hacked our way upward as far from the cornice as possible. When we could, we climbed the rocks, happy to be approaching the summit so fast. The wind was only moderate. I was aware even then that this was one of the pleasantest ridge climbs I had ever undertaken. Not because it was the highest mountain in the world; no, simply because of the climb itself. On one side we gazed into the boundless expanse of Tibet and on the other onto the surging sea of clouds, a moving scene we could never expect to witness in the Alps.
All this time we were approaching the final, steep rock bastion. The ridge rose abruptly here for about 65 feet in two steps. The rock was solid and good, but the holds were somewhat small. On the Tibetan side a huge cornice hung far over space. We risked the cornice to bypass the first step. Ernst kicked deeply into the fairly hard snow. With his left hand on the rocks he worked himself slowly higher and higher. Even if the cornice should break off, not much could happen to us, for I had wedged myself behind an excellent block of rock and was belaying my companion carefully. Only for an instant did we trust to luck when I took a picture. It seemed too risky to bypass the second step by means of the cornice, so we worked our way upwards on tiny holds in the rock. Finally, astride the steep rock ridge, we shoved ourselves along until we could stand again.
Step by step we cut our way up the bare ice slope towards the summit. To the left we looked 8000 feet down onto the tiny tents of Camp III; to the right the huge ice formations of the eastern slopes disappeared into the abyss. With oxygen we had ascended as effortlessly and fresh as if climbing at home. Suddenly the gigantic northern precipices fell away at our feet; we stood on the "roof of the world," the highest summit on earth. It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
Our gaze reached into cloudless Tibet, along the never-ending course of the Brahmaputra and on into the blue heavens above the horizon some 300 to 500 miles away. Here and there a white, snow-covered peak rose above the brown sea of hills. We saw no path, no hamlet, no life; it was a dead land. The inaccessibility of this tremendous country, which stretched still farther beyond the horizon, gave us a feeling of unreality; it was an open look into a forbidden land. To the south seethed the monsoon clouds. To the east we could see the famous 8000ers: Lhotse, Makalu, and Kang-chenjunga; in the west the proud pyramid of Dhaulagiri. We whiled away nearly an hour, gazing around us, taking photographs and marveling. Our stomachs growled horribly, but we could do nothing for them since all our food had been buried under the snow during the night. What did that matter anyhow!
About 3 o’clock we started down, wrapped in the dark gray of the mists. We left the extra oxygen cylinders where we had changed them, hoping they would help our comrades who would try for the summit after us. As a matter of fact, we met Dölf and Hansrüdi at Camp VII. They had the wearisome task of digging out and repitching the tent, which was drifted in to the ridgepole and badly torn in three places; we hardly envied them. Since I ran out of oxygen at that point, we continued on downward, hoping to make up the deficiency at the South Col. We arrived there at 7 P.M. only to discover that all oxygen had been carried higher. Even so, we slept peacefully and deeply; what could happen to us now?
The next day we labored exhaustedly over the Geneva Spur, still without oxygen, and reeled down the Lhotse face to Camp III, satisfied and happy, for we had reached our long-sought goal.
On the same night that Ernst Schmied and I slept the deep sleep of the blessed on the South Col, Hans-Rudolf von Gunten and Adolf Reist hardly closed their eyes in Camp VII. Until late they worked in the bitter cold to fix the badly ripped tent. Luckily it was windless or else the pair would hardly have left the bivouac the next morning safe and sound. Following our tracks of the day before, they reached the summit of Everest at 11o’clock. Rarely had we had such perfect and windless weather on the whole expedition. Two hours later they began the descent and at 4 o’clock stood with the others (Luchsinger, Reiss, Leuthold, and Müller) on the South Col.
On May 31 the whole group left Base Camp and in Namche Bazar and Khumjung spent two days of celebration, wet in more ways than one. Then with the monsoon in full sway we trekked through the hot, humid valleys and hills of Nepal back to Katmandu. On July 8 we all arrived back home in Switzerland with the single exception of Fritz Müller, who continued his scientific studies on the Khumbu Glacier until the end of the year.
Our group had experienced months of untarnished comradeship. We had spent unforgettable days in a land once strange to us. Four of us had stood on the top of the highest mountain in the world with an indescribable feeling of happiness, a feeling that is reserved for a mountaineer and can only be understood by one. However, it is but now, months later, that we are slowly beginning to be aware of the reality of this experience, an experience that comes but once in a lifetime.
Summary of Statistics
Ascents: Lhotse, 8501 m. (first ascent), May 18, 1957; Luchsinger, Reiss.
Everest, 8848 m. (second ascent), May 24, 1957: Marmet, Schmied; (third ascent), May 25, 1957: von Gunten, Reist.
Personnel: Albert Eggeler (expedition leader), Wolfgang Diehl, Hans Grimm, Hans-Rudolf von Gunten, Eduard Leuthold, Fritz Luchsinger, Jürg Marmet, Ernst Reiss, Adolf Reist, Ernst Schmied, Fritz Müller
*A French tent manufactured in Lyon. The other tents in use were Wico and Jamet tents, named for their designers.