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Asia, Nepal, Everest West Ridge Attempt

Everest West Ridge Attempt. Our British Services Everest Expedition was composed of Majors Bronco Lane, N.G. Williams, C.D. Spencer, R.C.A. McAllister, Lieutenant Colonel M.G. Bridges, Captain S.P. Lowe, Sergeants C. Barnes, T. Moore, Lance Corporals Angphula Sherpa, Lalitman Limbu, Flight Lieutenant S. Hunt, Flight Sergeants J, Morning, D. Howie, Chief Technician W. Batson, Corporal G. Stamp, Surgeon Lieutenant Commander A. Hughes, Surgeon Lieutenant P. Davis, Lieutenant S. Bell, Mr. Lincoln Rowe and me as leader. Our objective was to climb Everest via the Khumbu Icefall and the west ridge. After acclimatization on lesser peaks, our team was complete in Base Camp on March 20. We occupied Camps I, II, III, IV, V and VI at 5910 meters, 6400 meters (in the Western Cwm), 6900 meters, 7640 meters (on the west ridge), 8000 meters (at foot of Hornbein Couloir) and 8500 meters (at top of Hornbein Couloir) on March 26, April 2, 11,21, May 11 and 17. The weather was bad throughout the season. From April 27 to May 6, high winds and cold held up all expeditions. On the night of May 20, the tents at Camp V were destroyed by wind. With the supply line to Camp VI cut and oxygen and gas running out, the decision was taken to withdraw all climbers. We left Base Camp on May 24. Our route from the Western Cwm went straight up the ice wall and through a prominent gully onto the west ridge and did not follow the 1963 American route. On May 20, several of our team were involved in the rescue of a member of the French Ultra Lightweight Expedition, that had no oxygen. The climber was suffering from severe high-altitude sickness and was kept alive only with the aid of three of our 1400-liter oxygen cylinders. It took our team 14 hours to get him down the Western Cwn and the Khumbu Icefall. Throughout the season, we and the Spanish military expedition had considerable difficulties with small, badly equipped parties attempting alpine-style attempts. Had we, in agreement with four other teams, not opened and constructed the route through the icefall, they would not have got near the mountain. They were literally climbing on our backs.

Michael H. Kefford, Colonel, British Army