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Asia, Tibet, Everest, More on Earlier Chinese Expeditions

Everest, More on Earlier Chinese Expeditions. When the Western mountaineering world reacted with scepticism to Chinese claims in 1960 that their brave climbers had reached the summit of Everest, the authorities in Beijing did not publicly take any notice of these doubts. In fact, they took plenty and decided to launch another assault in 1967 to prove that they were as capable as anyone of reaching the summit. In preparation for the 1967 conquest, earlier climbs in 1964 and 1966 were organized. The Tibetan Mountaineering Association, which is headed by a Han Chinese but has Tibetan climbers associated with it, has launched a ten-year campaign to put Tibetans on the summits of all the 8000-meter peaks. In the spring of 1993, two TMA officials and the leader of the 1993 climbs of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri, Samdrup, came to Kathmandu. They promised to send me details of the earlier Everest attempts. The spring of 1964 expedition of about 20 climbers was led by Xu Jin. Their task was to determine the route, carry up supplies of oxygen and demonstrate skills to the 1967 selectors. Six or seven of this team reached 8100 meters. The group that went in 1966 were some 60 soldiers with no climbing experience who were ordered to the mountain by the leaders of the Cultural Revolution. Twenty were to do the climbing. The leader was again Xu Jin. They reached 7790 meters and were not capable of going higher. The Cultural Revolution took a different line and the 1967 expedition was suspended. The next Chinese effort on Everest was in 1975 when nine climbers, including the Tibetan woman Phantog, reached the top. Samdrup, who got to the summit in 1975, presented me with the list of eight men who had died on Everest. I already knew the names of three who perished in a crevasse fall during the post-monsoon Sino-Japanese reconnaissance of 1979. They were Wang Hong Bao, Nima Tashi and Luo San. The others were Wang Ji, who died in 1960 of pulmonary edema at Advance Base after climbing to the North Col; Shou Zhi Qing, who in 1964 died of a cerebral hemorrhage on the North Col; Ma Gao Shu, who in 1966 reached 7790 meters but fell to his death on the descent; Wu Zhuong Yue, who had climbed Shisha Pangma in 1964 but suffered a fatal fall at 8100 meters, in 1975; and Shi Ming Ji who died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1978 at only 5700 meters on a Sino-Iranian reconnaissance. [Miss Hawley’s report has been slightly shortened —Editor.]

Elizabeth Hawley