The southern face of Mount Everest soars above the monsoon clouds, August 26, 2000, at the border of Nepal and Tibet. (AP Photo/John McConnico)
INDEPTH: MOUNT EVEREST|
Canadians and Mount Everest
CBC News Online | May 29, 2006
"Because it's there…"
The special status of Mount Everest was confirmed back in 1852, when the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India determined that Everest (or Peak XV, as it was known then) was indeed the highest mountain in the world.
British climber George Mallory's famous 1923 response when a reporter asked him why he wanted to climb Everest
But the first formal attempt to climb the peak did not come until 1922, when the British tried but failed to reach the top. Seven Sherpa guides were killed in that fateful attempt – the first reported deaths on Everest.
Over the next three decades, many more tried to reach the summit. But it wasn't until 1953's British-led expedition that the feat was accomplished. New Zealand-born Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reach the top on May 29, achieving nothing less than climbing immortality.
Edmund Hillary, left, Col. John Hunt, and Tenzing Norgay, take a last look at Mount Everest before leaving Kathmandu, Nepal, in this July 1953 file photo. (AP Photo)
It comes as no surprise, then, that Canada – with more than its share of mountains and climbing enthusiasts – should produce a determined clique of climbers who would want to make their own assault on the world's most famous mountain.
A timeline of Canadians and Mount Everest
Canadian-born Earl Denman tries to climb Everest from the north route along with several Sherpas (including Tenzing Norgay). The climb is not sanctioned and the group narrowly escapes arrest by Tibetan patrols. But the climb does not succeed. One source describes Denman's climbing gear as "woefully inadequate." Denman apparently walks part of the way back to Darjeeling (500 kilometres away) in bare feet when his boots wear out.
The 1982 Canadian Mount Everest Expedition Team was one of the best organized and financed of any Everest team. But their attempt was to be a mixture of triumph and tragedy. Cameraman Blair Griffiths is killed in an icefall. Three Sherpas die in an avalanche. The team is devastated; six members withdraw. But on Oct. 5, Calgary-born Laurie Skreslet becomes the first Canadian to set foot on Everest's top. He stays for 30 minutes. Two days later, Pat Morrow becomes the second Canadian to successfully
Canadian Sharon Wood becomes the first North American woman to climb Everest. And she does it by taking a new route to the top (there are 14 known routes). The Halifax-born Wood climbs to Everest's West Shoulder from the Rongbuk Glacier and makes it to the summit by way of the Hornbein Couloir on May 20. She descends in the dark. Fellow Canadian climber Dwayne Congdon also makes it to the top. Congdon was also part of the 1982 expedition.
Sharon Wood with fellow climber, Dwayne Congdon, Sept. 23, 1987. (CP Photo)
Canadian Dan Wood successfully reaches Everest's summit on Oct. 4 via the South East Ridge as part of an American-led commercial expedition. Wood is one of 72 climbers to reach the top of the world this year.
Yves LaForest, a Montreal-born climber, is part of an American-led team that puts four of its members on the summit on May 15.
--A Canadian climbing team launches the first Everest expedition for charity, the Climb for Hope. The team is formed by Ernie Sniedzins to bring attention to a rare medical condition known as Rett Syndrome, which his daughter has.
Canadian Michael Sutton is part of an American-led team – the Alpine Ascent International Expedition – that manages to take seven of its climbers to the summit on May 10.
--All right, this entry isn't about Mount Everest. But Jim Haberl and Dan Culver manage to scale the world's second-tallest mountain, K2, becoming the first Canadians to make that perilous ascent. Haberl is subsequently killed in an Alaskan avalanche in 1999.
A Canadian team attempts to put the first Canadians on the roof of the world without the use of oxygen. Extreme fatigue forces them to turn back less than 200 metres from the top.
On May 23, Jamie Clarke becomes the ninth Canadian to reach the summit, followed closely by Alan Hobson, number 10.
Canadian Byron Smith comes to within 80 metres of Everest's top but has to turn back when he doesn't have enough rope.
Rimouski-born climber Bernard Voyer makes it to the summit on May 5. Bad weather prevented him reaching the summit on his first Everest attempt in 1997. A veteran adventurer, Voyer was also the first Canadian to reach the magnetic
North Pole on skis in 1993.
The Winnipeg-born Byron Smith returns to Everest with an expedition he leads himself. Byron and seven Sherpas make it to the top of the world on May 21, using the same South East Ridge route that Hillary and Norgay used in 1953. The Everest 2000 Expedition receives extensive media coverage – in part because of the partnership with the official expedition broadcaster, CBC Newsworld, which receives daily live satellite updates from the team during its trek up the mountain.
Dr. Sean Egan
Calgarians Dave Rodney and Deryl Kelly reach the top of Mount Everest on May 24, making Rodney the only Canadian to climb Everest twice and making Kelly, at 25, the youngest Canadian to reach the top. Montreal-born Francois Langlois also reaches the summit.
A Mexican-Canadian expedition succeeds in placing Martin Boileau, a 38-year-old Quebec eye surgeon, on Everest's summit on May 16. Less than an hour later, two more Quebecers are standing in the same spot. Maxime Jean and Claude St-Hilaire are part of the Discovery Canada Everest Expedition. At least six Canadians reach the top in the spring of 2004.
On April 29, Ottawa professor Sean Egan dies of an apparent heart attack while being taken down the mountain. At age 63, he was trying to become the oldest Canadian to reach the summit.
On May 30, University of Ottawa graduate student Shaunna Burke, 29, became the second Canadian woman to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. Burke had unsuccessfully attempted to climb the mountain in 2004.
On June 2, Torontonian Urszula Tokarska, 42, reached the top of Everest, making her the third Canadian woman to do so. Tokarska is said to be the first Canadian woman to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents. She has also climbed Mount McKinley in Alaska, Aconcagua in Argentina, Elbrus in Russia, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Kosciusko in Australia and Antarctica's Vinson Massif.
On May 26, Calgarian Andrew Brash abandoned his second quest for the summit to help Australian climber Lincoln Hall, who had been left for dead by his team. Even though he was only 200 metres from the peak of Everest, Brash worked with other climbers to get Hall down the mountain.
Height of Mount Everest:|
29,035 feet (8,850 metres)
Number of people who have reached the summit:
2,249 (by end of 2004)
Number who have died:
Average cost of guided Everest climb, per person:
Favourite job of successful summiteers:
Sources: www.everesthistory.com, National Geographic
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