Everest Exhibition Catalogue Now Available Online

Everest Exhibition Catalogue Now Available Online

Following the end of its run, the accompanying catalogue for our exhibition 'Everest by Those Who Were There - 1921, 1922, 1924'  is now available to view online via our Publications Page.

Written by the Alpine Club's Honorary Librarian Barbara Grigor-Taylor and with a foreward by mountaineering writer Peter Gillman, the catalogue wonderfully captures both the depth of historical material and the many human stories that were so wonderfully explored by the exhibition.

Replete with high quality photographs from the expeditions themselves, along with art works and artefacts, the catalogue places these early expeditions in the context of the time, detailing everything from how the idea of climbing Everest first came to be, all the way up to the blow-by-blow movements of Mallory and Irvine on their fateful summit push.

We are pleased to be able to make it free to all online so that anyone who was unable to attend the exhibition can still engage with the material. Whether you are an Everest expert or entirely unfamiliar with this era of mountaineering, you will doubtless find it an absorbing and informative read.

Read it here.  



Victor Saunders Receives Jon Whyte Award for Mountain Literature

Current AC President Victor Saunders has received the Jon Whyte Award for Mountain Literature (Non-Fiction) for his new book 'Structured Chaos'. The prize was awarded as part of the Banff Mountain Festival.

Jury member Bernadette McDonald commented: "In his unique, conversational style, Victor Saunders has taken us on a wonderful journey; sometimes heart-breaking, often hilarious. His observations are surgically precise, his evocative descriptions are skilfully penned and his personal reflections are unstintingly honest. From his early awkward years to his many impressive climbs in the Great Ranges, what stands out above all in Structured Chaos is the value he places on friendship."

As a category award winner, Victor is now eligible for the festival's Grand Prize for mountain literature. The recipient of this award will be announced on Friday 5 November.

A full list of the category winners is available to view here.



Report: 15 October 2021

A brief report on conditions before a weekend of good weather.
All the lifts are shut with the exception of the Montenvers train. The Plan de l’Aigille téléphérique should reopen 16/10 but the Aiguille du Midi section won’t open until the Toussaint holiday (23/10 to 07/11).
We have had lots of enquiries concerning conditions in the high mountains.  At the moment we have no information except there is regular activity on the Aiguille du Tour and the Tête Blanche and on the normal route on Mont Blanc via the Goûter. A few parties have been on the Jorasses but there is no further information since the report of the Linceul on our site.
Some winter rooms are filling up quickly at the moment.There were almost 50 people last weekend at the Albert 1er for 40 places. Bear this in mind or think about doing something else. The Torino Hut is open with access via the Skyway (pass sanitaire obligatory for the lift). Activity is concentrated on the Aiguilles Marbrées and the Entrèves. No new information on other routes or the gullies.
The rock is dry on south facing aspects in the Aiguilles Rouges but approaches are long from the valley. No new information about the Envers des Aiguilles but it should still be possible to climb up there a bit. The Montenvers ladders are closed for work and access to the Mer de Glace is via the Grotto.
For walkers there are no particular worries and most routes should be doable. Some shady high altitudes routes will be snowy and therefore slippery. You will need good boots and poles (Salenton, Buet, Jonction...). A few paths are closed for maintenance look at this page before leaving.
Autumn is well advanced and the “équipements” (chains etc) are being removed on some routes (the gangway on the Tricot à Bionnassay, chains under the Nid d'Aigle). Some summer signs will be removed soon in ski areas and in places exposed to avalanche.
Not surprisingly we are lacking a lot of information and eagerly await your feedback to supplement our next report.

AC Members Recognised in AAC(UK) Photo Competition

The Club would like to congratulate members Derek Buckle, Andrey Golovachev and Nick Hurndall Smith whose photography has been recognised in the annual Austrian Alpine Club (UK) Photo & Sketch Competition.


'Two Smokers' by Andrey Golovachev

'Paul Winder on the NNW Ridge of the Weisshorn' by Nick Hurndall Smith

'Nick King on Liskamm' by Derek Buckle

Andrey's photograph 'Two Smokers' won the award for Best Portrait/People Image while two of his other images 'Yin and Yang' and 'Theatre of Silence' were commended in the Nature and General categories respectively.

Meanwhile, in the Best Mountain Landscape/Wild Country category, Nick's photograph of Paul Winder on the NNW Ridge of the Weisshorn claimed the top prize, while Derek's image of Nick King on Liskamm was highly commended. Nick's photographs 'Shaqsha Descent' and 'Chombu, Sikkim' were also commended in this category.

Many congratulations to all three members.

You can see a full list of the winners on the AAC(UK) website.



2021 Piolets d'Or Nominees Announced

The recipients of the 2021 Piolets d'Or, honouring routes achieved in 2020 have been announced. Due to the pandemic, it was obviously a difficult year for exploratory mountaineering and the judges have sought to reflect this in the ascents they have chosen to award.

'Running in the Shadows' on Mount Robson's Emperor Face and 'Revers Gagnant' on Sani Pakkush are both to receive mountaineering's highest accolade, while Silvia Vidal has also been recognised for her impressive resumé of solo big wall first ascents.

'Running in the Shadows' was climbed by Alpine Club member Uisdean Hawthorn and American Ethan Berman. Although at a lower altitude than routes typically awarded by the committee, it was felt that given the special circumstances of the pandemic and the impeccable alpine-style in which the route was achieved, that it was very much worthy of recognition. You can hear Uisdean discuss the route in the Alpine ClubCast 'Bagpipes and Blagging' which we broadcast in January of this year.

At a more familiar height for the Piolet d'Or, 'Revers Gagnant' was climbed by the French team of Pierrick Fine and Symon Welfringer after they were forced to relocate their planned autumn expedition from Nepal to the Karakoram. Their new line tackled the mountain via its south face and southwest ridge to achieve the second ascent of this summit.

Greater detail on the routes and recipients can be found via the Piolets d'Or website.   



Report: 6 October 2021

Snow and wind at altitude, the first frosts, fog in the valley - there’s no doubt it’s Autumn.

It snowed high up at the beginning of the week. We think between 5 and 10cm of snow at 2,300m. There was a dusting at 2,000m but it has already melted. Higher up it’s difficult to estimate the quantity of snow. At the Torino Hut there is about 40cm. What is certain is that it’s all beautifully white. You can get a reasonable idea of conditions thanks to the webcam of Punta Helbronner and for the footpaths the webcams of the Compagnie du Mont Blanc.

The classic snow routes must be possible at the moment but at this time of year they are much more committing, and you will need lots of experience. It’s a long way, the huts are shut, it’s cold and there are no tracks. You may need snow shoes to get around on glaciers.

The Skyway lift and the Torino hut are still open. The shorter classic routes (traverses of the Marbrées and Entrèves and glacier trips) are being done.

It’s certainly possible that mixed routes are in condition, but you will have to go and see as we have no information.

The rock is well plastered even quite low down (Envers des Aiguilles, Plan de l'Aiguille, Argentière basin, Aiguilles Rouges). Rock climbing is therefore concentrated on sunny valley crags. Watch out for fog, seepage and cold fingers. Or go further south.

Quiet footpaths and beautiful autumn colours await you. There are no problems with walking below 2,200 m (warm clothes + gloves + hat needed). Above that height, there is some snow and you will have to equip yourself properly (good shoes + poles).

Remember to consult the list of trails closed for work.

As a reminder, the Montenvers train is the only lift currently open in the Chamonix Valley.



Everest Exhibition - Weekend Opening

As our special centenary exhibition, 'Everest: by Those Who Were There', approaches the end of its run, we are pleased to announce a final weekend opening to celebrate the exhibition and offer the first look at a film inspired by the expeditions of the 1920s.

This will be one of the final opportunities to see the complete exhibition which includes a number of remarkable pieces of Everest history - the oxygen equipment first used on the mountain, early watercolour paintings of the region and Sandy Irvine's ice axe.

It is also the first opportunity to see a specially commissioned film that celebrates these historic years and provides new insight into these groundbreaking early expeditions. The film, produced by former AC President John Porter, features contributions from numerous Everest luminaries, including Sir Chris Bonington, Dawson Stelfox and Leo Houlding.

Visitors are welcome to view the exhibition from 12PM, with the film showing at 3PM.

Everest Exhibition Tour Now Available on YouTube

A video tour of our current exhibition, 'Everest: by Those Who Were There' is now available to view on YouTube. Presented by club librarian Beth Hodgett, the tour explores the major events of the 1921, 1922 and 1924 Everest Exhibition using the artefacts and materials compiled for the exhibition by our Honorary Librarian Barbara Grigor-Taylor.

As the video was initially broadcast via Facebook live, it is filmed in a vertical aspect ratio and so is best viewed on mobile. We had some small issues with sound in the initial live broadcast, but these have now been rectified with a short subtitled section in this version.


Charles Howard-Bury Profiled in Digital Exhibition

Members may be interested to see this virtual exhibition, curated by Ian Kenneally and presented by Westmeath County Council and Belvedere House & Gardens.

‘We had experience of wonderful moments…’ commemorates the 1921 Everest expedition in this its centenary year, with a particular focus on the expedition lead Charles Howard-Bury.

It is a fantastic companion piece to our own Everest centenary exhibition and has been wonderfully presented with a mix of print, audio, video and photographic records, including some from the AC Library collection.


Neil Sawyer

We have received the very sad news that one of our newest members, Neil Sawyer, was killed in a cycling accident near Chamonix on 23 September.

For those who knew Neil and would like to attend, his memorial service will be streamed live on 1 October via this event page

Report: 23 September 2021

It’s certainly inter-season now in the Chamonix Valley.

As far as the lifts go: the Midi cable car (exceptional closure 4-15 October), the Montenvers train and the Tramway du Mont Blanc are still open.

Dates of closure of some of the huts are as follows:

- refuge des Cosmiques: 28/09
- refuge du Goûter: 28/09
- refuge de Tête Rousse: 27/09
- rifugio Torino: 03/11
- refuge plan de l'Aiguille: 01/11
- refuge de Tré la Tête: 15/10
- refuge de Moede d'Anterne: 30/09
- refuge du lac Blanc: 26/09
- refuge du col de Balme: 30/09
- refuge de Loriaz: 26/09

It snowed up high last weekend with the rain/snow limit down to 2300m. Take great care on glaciers as snow bridges across crevasses will be weak. Also be careful about your choice of rock route (snow,verglas).

Activity has been concentrated around the Aiguille du Midi. Cosmiques arete, traverse of the Pointes Lachenal. You can climb on the south faces of the Aiguille du Midi and the Lachenal. No news about the Midi-Plan but why not?! The Chéré couloir is in reasonable condition as are the classics from the Helbronner.

There has been a great finish to the season on the normal route on Mont Blanc (lots of happy “parapentistes” and others). The train and the huts are closed after this weekend.

The Trois Monts route was re-tracked on Thursday 23/9. Watch out for a snow bridge under the shoulder of the Tacul. It can be turned on the right but it’s steep (technical on the descent).

The rimaye at the Col du Mont Maudit is still crossable well to the left with a long traverse to get back to the col.

There is now a bit of snow on the ledges of the south face of the Moine. The normal routes on the Courtes and the Droites look ok.

A new abseil line has been put in place this week to descend from the Grand Dru towards the Charpoua leading back to the start of the traverse. 16 abseils (chain belays, 45-50m). Topo to come.

You can think about climbing on sunny granite near the Orny, hut, in the Argentière basin, at the Envers des Aiguilles, and from the Dalmazzi and the Monzino etc. On the shady faces it’s not quite so nice but there have been a few teams on the pilier Rouge de Blaitière, the Papillons arete and the normal route on the Peigne.

At medium altitude (“moyenne montagne”) there are beautiful autumn colours.

The light sprinkling of snow last weekend doesn’t pose any particular problems. Poles and good boots are sensible as there may be heavy dews and slippery paths.

Its also the time of year when path maintenance takes place. Path closure page (in French) is available here.



Alpine Club Members Shortlisted for Boardman Tasker and Banff Mountain Literature Awards

The Alpine Club has a proud literary history and it is terrific to see that tradition being carried on strongly into the present, with a number of members among the nominees for the 2021 Boardman Tasker and Banff Mountain Literature Awards.

Richard Sykes

We are saddened to learn of the death on 17 September of Richard Sykes, who had been a member for 50 years.

Everest Exhibition to be Broadcast Live

On the 27 September at 16:00 UK time, the Alpine Club will broadcast a livestream of our latest exhibition: ‘Everest: by Those Who Were There’ via our Facebook page.

The exhibition marks the centenary of the very first Everest expedition in 1921 and uses the words and possessions of expedition members from 1921, 1922 and 1924 to tell the story of the first attempts to climb the world’s highest mountain – from the search for its exact location in 1921, to the fateful summit attempt of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine in 1924.

Sandy Irvine working on Oxygen cylinders in base camp, 1924. (Photo: Bentley Beetham)

The livestream will be presented by Alpine Club librarian Beth Hodgett (@AlpineLibrarian) and will provide viewers with both an overview of the 1920s expeditions and the opportunity to see many of the artefacts on display, including the watercolour paintings of Howard Somervell, a piece of the mountain itself and Sandy Irvine’s ice axe.

The exhibition’s curator and Honorary Librarian of the Alpine Club, Barbara Grigor-Taylor said: “During the past 18 months it has been especially hard, and at times impossible, for everyone who might wish to attend the exhibition to make their way to see it in person. That’s why we’re so excited to be able to offer this opportunity for as many people as possible to receive a tour of the exhibition online.”

The broadcast is expected to run from 16:00 to 16:30 and will be available to view after the fact via the Alpine Club’s Facebook page. You can sign up for a reminder of the event here.

‘Everest: by Those Who Were There’ will complete its London run on the 20th of October, with visitors welcome to the Alpine Club’s premises at 55 Charlotte Road, London on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between the hours of 12:00 and 17:00 until then. (Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book a visit).

A commemorative exhibition catalogue, detailing the three 1920s expeditions and reproducing the full exhibition collection is also available for purchase but we are down to the final few copies.



Everest 1975 | Alpine Journal Extract

Everest 1975 - Journal Extract

On the 24th of September 1975, a British expedition lead by Sir Chris Bonington was successful in making the first ascent of Everest’s South-West Face.

In total, four individuals reached the summit as part of this expedition; the first party of Doug Scott and Dougal Haston which summited on the 24th and another of Pete Boardman and Pertemba Sherpa, which summited on the 26th. During this second summit bid, Mick Burke was lost on the mountain.

The 1976 write-up of the expedition in the Alpine Journal by Pete Boardman and Ronnie Richards makes for an engrossing read, with a particularly vivid re-telling of Haston and Scott’s summit bid as told from the perspective of the observers lower down the mountain. It also contains an honest appraisal of the expedition’s methods and costs – contrasting them with the increasing popularity of alpine-style pushes.

An extract is presented below.

The upper part of Everest SW face.

Each day exact checks on what food and equipment were in each camp had to be matched against the number of Sherpas available for carrying and what was required for upward progress and maintenance of present positions with safety margins. Radio messages, regarded somewhat ambivalently at first, were prolonged when the chain became extended and front progress almost too fast, especially when oxygen and an alarming number of faulty regulators had to be juggled into the calculations. This operation depended of course on our Sherpas, whose particularly high morale and enthusiasm were key factors in the whole expedition; the unprecedented quantities, so quickly built up at Camp 5, were an indicator of the support coming right through from Base Camp and the organisational efforts of Chris Bonington, Mike Cheney, Adrian Gordon, Dave Clarke and our Sirdars Pertemba and Ang Phu.

Yet, in the midst of the apparently inexorable machine-like activity, the mountain was large enough for one to realise that it would not require much to reverse the tide of circumstances carrying us forward so well. A few days out in front could emphasise the contrasts. Early morning outside Camp 5, the eye would be greeted by a glow suffusing across the horizon, Cho Oyu tipped with rosy orange, Pumori, now a pimple, emerging out of the dark stillness below and the fringe of Gosainthan and its Tibetan neighbours in the distance. Conscious of fiddling with freezing crampons and oxygen apparatus in the half-light and then, cocooned in a semi-somnolent shell, the rhythmical shuffle, pull, plod and gasp up the ropes to the previous day's high point. Fix a few more rope lengths until no more was left and then easily slide down in the bright light to excavate a snow platform and erect the next box, so more rope instead of box platforms could come up from Camp 2.

By the time we reached the Rock Band on 19 September, progress was well in advance of that on previous attempts and even the most optimistic computer estimate on Chris's multicoloured graphs. From below and from air photos it was not possible to see whether the left-hand gully provided a route through the Rock Band, as it was so deep and well concealed. The break­through came on 20 September when Tut Braithwaite and Nick Estcourt cramponed into the bowels of the Rock Band. They encountered some difficult mixed pitches whilst entering and climbing up the gully, including an ice-clad chockstone that succumbed to a few pitons for aid. In the curling mists of the afternoon it had the haunting atmosphere of a Scottish gully with dark looming walls soaring upwards from a narrow snow bed. Then Nick and Tut dumped their empty oxygen cylinders and climbed across a remarkable ramp, loose and difficult, that led out from the gully rightwards to the top of the Band.

Braithwaite climbing the ramp to the top of the Rock Band

Down in Camp 2 awaiting developments, an anxious call came from Camp 1 that it was collapsing; Hamish strode off to a Canute-like investigation. A bunting-like bird hopped about outside the mess tent whilst those within disposed of roast yak with relish. When Tut and Nick eventually arrived back off the Face, the crowded superbox felt like the Padarn Lake Hotel as they talked and gesticulated about their high-altitude acrobatics. Temporary feelings of anti-climax at lack of news and non-involvement with action above soon dissolved into euphoria. In only one day, the crux of the route and stumbling block of 5 earlier expeditions had at last been climbed and success seemed near.

On one long relentless day Mike Thompson, Mick Burke, Chris Bonington, Ang Phurba and Pertemba carrying vital ropes, fuel and oxygen, supported Doug Scott and Dougal Haston in establishing Camp 6 on a slim crest on the snow-slope above the Rock Band. At last it was possible to look across that much dreamed-about great traverse, and up the gully to the S Summit of Everest. Above, the wind was blowing ice particles off the summit ridge, shimmering in the sunlight. The support team took a long look from their 8320 m eyrie and then, with supreme altruism, turned back down to Camp 5 as the sun declined behind towering anvil clouds over Nepal. Doug and Dougal were left excavating a perch for their tiny green box. After spending a day fixing 400 m of rope that wavered around spurs and over steep rock steps, they were back again and were poised for their final attempt, the Alpine commitment of leaving the end of the safety line and forging for the summit. And at the back of their minds, they were aware of the other teams moving up the face below them, snapping at their heels, eager for their chance.

The next morning the BBC cameraman Ian Stewart, plodded dedicatedly up the W Cwm. He pointed his telephoto lens at two figures 1800 m above him moving steadily across the top of the Rock Band. Occasionally a dead man on one of their waists flashed a sense of immediacy down into the Cwm.

Haston on the traverse above the Rock Band

Back in the boxes on the face everyone was relying for information as to their progress on radio reports from down in the Cwm. At Camp 5, Mick Burke, Martin Boysen and Pete Boardman and Pertemba were listening in every half-hour to progress reports. Mick peered out of the box doorway and up at the dark looming Rock Band 'Well, if they don't make it, they should have their first bounce around here'. Meanwhile, 600 m lower down Dave Clarke and Ronnie Richards crouched over their radio in the main street of Camp 4.

During the traverse, the watchers saw a large powder snow avalanche sweep down from the summit - it plummeted past the two figures now just visible to the naked eye from Camp 2. Then Doug and Dougal disappeared into the S Summit Gully. Hours later, at 3pm they reappeared briefly on the S Summit, only to move from view over the ridge into China. Occasionally a puff of snow appeared in the wind over the summit ridge. Soon the surmise was made by the watchers at Camp 2, Doug and Dougal were going for the summit. In the late afternoon light, 2 figures could just be seen moving, amazingly, unbelievably, up along the ridge. The light was failing and Chris crackled through the radio to the next summit bid team to prepare for a rescue and to load up with pain killers for potential frost-bite. How would Doug and Dougal survive a bivouac at 8,750m?

Next morning the second team found them inside the box at Camp 6, their minds still numb and speech slurred after a night without sleep and without much oxygen. But their imaginations were full of a lifetime sight - sunset from the summit - the interminable brown and silver rivers of Tibet, and a myriad of sunsets, sun shifting behind the plumed storm clouds of Nepal. They told of their near failure when at the foot of the gully Dougal's mask had frozen solid, blocking his oxygen supply and for an hour they had struggled to repair it. They told of the deep time-consuming powder snow in the gully, of the wind slab and the cornices, and of the Chinese maypole on the summit. They told of hallucinations in the snow-hole, of Doug holding a conversation with his feet, and of Dougal's conviction that Dave Clarke was with them, but without his usual issue of warm, life preserving down! However, unlike Doug, Dougal was wearing a down suit. In the heat of the afternoon Doug and Dougal were back at Camp 2, after 1,800m of sliding down the face on the ropes, involving a disciplined concentration on the ritual of clipping and unclipping their friction brakes with sensitive rewarmed fingers. Soon they were in the tender care of Dr Charles Clarke who, clad in a suit of red silk, swept around them with a bowl of warm water. In one bold and daring push Doug and Dougal had maintained the upward momentum of the whole expedition by reaching the summit within 33 days of Base Camp being established.

Despite the jubilation and the sense of personal success he must have felt at having co-ordinated and planned the ascent of the route, Chris now felt an added responsibility for the expedition. He intended to recognise the personal ambitions of the other team members and planned for 3 subsequent summit bids. And he was worried about Mick, who by mid afternoon still had not arrived at Camp 6 to join Martin, Pete and Pertemba.

But when Mick arrived at 4pm many fears were allayed. He was his usual chirpy self. He had been carrying extra camera equipment, had been readjusting the fixed line, had been helping Lakpa Dorje Sherpa whose oxygen apparatus had failed and his own oxygen had run out when he was 60 m below the Camp. He could see the hardworn line of Doug and Dougal's steps stretching beckoningly upwards. With the summit of the highest mountain on earth so accessible, what mountaineer would deny himself at least a try?

By dawn the following morning a chain of circumstances had been set in motion. Pete and Pertemba had reached the end of the fixed ropes and were convinced that oxygen difficulties had forced Martin and Mick to retreat. There was no-one in sight. They kicked away the spindrift from the tracks and moved unroped away from the end of the fixed ropes across the 300m traverse to the S Summit Gully. There they jumared gratefully up a fixed line hanging over a rock step in the gully. Looking down they could see a solitary sitting figure far back across the traverse and presumed it was Martin watching their progress before he turned back disappointedly to Camp 6. Meanwhile for those back at Camp 2 the view lacked the sunlit immediacy of 2 days before. The weather was changing and the cloud level was down to 8,200m.

At 10am Pete and Pertemba were standing on the S Summit but Pertemba's wayward oxygen set was re-enacting Dougal's ice block and it was 1 ½ hours and several cold fingers later before they began, roped now, to move along the summit ridge. They were not to be greeted on the summit by the shifting light patterns of a great panorama. Instead, visibility was down to 50 m and the sun was shining through the clouds above them. Pertemba attached a Nepalese flag to the maypole.

Haston on the Hillary step

On their descent they were amazed to see Mick through the mist. He was sitting on the snow only a few hundred metres down an easy angled snow­slope from the summit. He seemed cheerful, congratulated them and asked them to go back to the summit with him so he could do some filming. They declined thinking that since they were moving roped and he was so near the summit, that he would soon catch them up again as they pitched the descent. He asked them to wait for him by the big rock of the S Summit. Pete said 'See you soon' and they moved back down the ridge to the S Summit. Shortly after they had left him, the weather began to deteriorate. The sky and cornices and whirling snow merged together, visibility was reduced to 3 metres and all tracks were obliterated.

They waited nearly 1 ½ hours before deciding to go down. They very nearly did not get back. They had difficulty in finding the top of the gully, found the top of the fixed rope over the rock step in the dark and were covered by 2 powder snow avalanches whilst moving blindly down and across the traverse. It was dark when they found the end of the fixed ropes. Moving across the fixed rope, Pertemba lost a crampon and Pete fell down a rock step to be held on the rope. One of the sections of fixed rope had been swept away. Martin was waiting for them at Camp 6. He had turned back when his oxygen equipment had failed and his crampon had fallen off. Pete and Pertemba arrived back at 7:30 at night and the 3 of them were pinned down at the camp for a whole day and 2 nights whilst the storm continued unabated. Pertemba was snow-blind and Pete could not feel his feet. Martin suffered frost-bite in his fingers whilst clearing the snow that was burying the boxes as avalanches poured past and over the edge of the Rock Band.

When the storm finally cleared on the morning of 28 September there was no chance of Mick having survived. Camp 4 had been evacuated and half the tents at Camp 2 had been destroyed by the blast from an avalanche from Nuptse. Bonington ordered the mountain to be cleared. The climbers remaining on the Face began painfully to descend. Within 2 days the entire ex­pedition was back at Base Camp.

What had happened to Mick? Perhaps the cornices on the Tibetan side of the ridge or the fragile one-foot wind slab on the Nepal side had collapsed, the fixed line over the Hillary Step had failed, or perhaps Mick, wearing glasses, blinded by the spindrift, had lost his way on the summit dome. He had taken a decision which any of the climbers on the expedition would have made, to try for the summit alone. To us, the question was - was the climb worth Mick's death? But back home, in the mountaineering press, other debates continue. Did Everest, its success, adventure and tragedy, transcend the ethical debates? Was a big, costly logistical pyramid of men and supplies justified in 1975 when so much was achieved elsewhere in the Himalaya that year by bold lightweight expeditions on Gasherbrum 1 and Dunagiri? Do the sherpas and their country suffer from the impact of involvement with such an onslaught of capitalist commercial risk-takers? Was it more than a 'vertically integrated crowd control?'

The summit ridge with the S summit and Lhotse

The expedition owed much of its success to good weather high up (that only broke just when the expedition was at its most extended). It owed its success to Chris's leadership, to Bob Stoodley and Ronnie Richards getting the gear out, to Dave Clarke organising the equipment, to Mike Thompson organising the food, to Tut and Nick climbing the Rock Band, to the cool panache of Doug and Dougal's summit push, to hundreds of helpers and well-wishers in Britain and Nepal, and to Barclays Bank. It owed its success to climbers working together and trusting each other as friends. And it owed its success to the Sherpas whose involvement with the expedition and its success was total and euphoric - no Sherpas had been killed on the mountain, a Sherpa had reached the summit, they had been paid well and given fine equipment, the climb was over early and there was still good money to be made in the trekking season. The effect on us of their inherent happiness and reliability was more powerful than the impact of any of our misguided Western values on them. The Sherpas had been treated as equals and mutual respect and co-operation resulted. Their success was our success and ours was theirs.

And the mountain? The great drifting snows of winter soon erase the marks of man's ant-like scratchings. Everest's beauty leaves a picturehouse of memories that last a lifetime. Yet, Everest is a big mountain and the SW Face in 1975 required heavyweight tactics. Access to its secrets is only achieved after a 600 m ice-fall and a 2-mile walk up the W Cwm at 6,400m. And high on its slopes there is only a narrow boundary between a controlled and an uncontrolled situation that can be crossed irreversibly within minutes. Beyond the fixed ropes there is total Alpine commitment.

And the publicity? No climbing of Everest can ever be a private affair. Everest, the myth, with its magic and history fills the corners of the minds of many people - as the sunset from the summit filled the minds of Doug and Dougal and as at the end of the expedition, the experience of Everest was a mixture of awe, relief, happiness and sadness for the long lines of climbers who toiled back across the freshly fallen snow, back down the W Cwm. Occasionally stopping and glancing back.

The full report can be read via the Digital Alpine Journal.



Revised Library Opening Hours

From September 2021 the Library will open Tuesday to Thursday 10:00 - 17:00.

Bookings are no longer required for members wanting to browse the open shelves, though if you have a particular research project that requires access to the Club archives, please do contact us in advance so that we can prepare for your visit.

We kindly request that visitors to the library continue to follow Covid-19 precautions including sanitizing hands before entering the library.

We look forward to seeing you soon.



Report: 8th September 2021

Some brief summary information.

In general terms conditions in the high mountains haven’t changed much recently. Mixed routes are gradually becoming less snowy. Rock routes are generally staying in condition but it’s better to be in the sun because it’s becoming cold in the shade.

Take care with thunderstorms or showers at this time of year as new snowfall often doesn’t melt depending on the altitude and aspect. Rock routes can become much more difficult with snow or verglas.

Huts are gradually closing. Staying open at the moment are: Albert 1er; Envers des Aiguilles, Cosmiques, Torino, Nid d'Aigle, Tête Rousse, Goûter, Durier, Conscrits and Monzino.

You can find provisional dates of hut closure here.

Ditto for the lifts with the closure of Planpraz/Brévent this weekend and Flégère the weekend of the 19th.


The Forbes arête is only for the most experienced: the start and the descent are very technical.

According to the latest news the Charpoua glacier is still passable. On the other hand there may be snow/verglas on the Dru traverse.

The Nantillons glacier has taken quite a hit. The rimaye du Rognon is open but you can go down into it to get onto the rock. The rimaye at the start of the Cordier pillar has been crossed but there is no further information. The Charmoz rimaye is complicated but an S shaped snow bridge (first to the left and then to the right) allows you to cross. A route on the right bank lets you avoid the upper part of the glacier (steep and icy).

Otherwise take the abseils from the C.P terrace (named after Charlet and Payot who marked their initials here).

Stone fall in the afternoon from the left bank of the glacier can reach the track under the rognon.


Midi-Plan: things are deteriorating here as well especially just after the Col du Plan (alternating patches of ice and rubble). The traverse after the Rognon du Plan abseil is exposed.


The Cosmiques arête is very dry (little snow).


Mont Blanc via the Trois Monts: still very technical especially at the Tacul rimaye and at the col du Mont Maudit (vertical 4m step at the rimaye, then an exposed horizontal traverse for 100 m). It is also icy towards the Rochers Rouges.


The Rochefort arête, the Dent du Géant, the Kuffner arête and the Aiguilles du Diable traverse are still busy but becoming more and more snow free. Beware of snow and verglas on the Jorasses traverse (especially with the forecast weather). The descent by the voie normale is still OK.


Generally good conditions on the S side of Mont Blanc (Innominata, Pillar Rouge du Brouillard) but crowded in the Eccles bivouac hut.


Dômes de Miage: glacier and ridge in good general condition. A bit of ice on the way up to the Eastern summit (point 3,673m). It’s also beginning to be icy on the descent to the Col de la Bérangère.


With the gradual closure of huts, information is becoming more scarce.



Report: 30th August 2021

Cooler mornings, shorter days, summer is coming to an end and autumn is coming!

At altitude, a predominantly north / northeast / northwest wind has persisted for several days which has made things feel very cold.

The mountains continue to steadily dry out but there are few noticeable changes from our previous update.

Tour basin

The classics (normal routes Aiguille du Tour - Tete Blanche - Petite Fourche - Arête de la Table) remain popular and doable. The Forbes arête on the Chardonnet: the descent is very technical and exposed (black ice).


Argentière Basin

The refuge closes on September 5th. The season finishes with rock routes and possibly the Col du Tour Noir.


Charpoua sector

The gardienne has finished her season and the refuge is now operating in winter mode.

The Charpoua glacier is still in OK condition for the end of August in both ascent and descent.

The Drus traverse (a route not to be underestimated) is still in good condition.


Couvercle Sector

Moine ridge on the Verte: The rimaye is still OK. Be conscious of the time of day because there is still a lot of snow and a little ice (crampons essential).


Leschaux sector

The climbing routes above the refuge are snow free. You can still climb on the Petits Jorasses. The belays on the voie Anouk have been refurbished.

The balcony path is still being used.

Access to the Talèfre glacier from the Couvercle has been re-equipped (addition of a rope and steps)


Requin Sector

The refuge closes on September 4th. Rock climbing is the focus at the moment. Access to the Dent du Requin is in good nick.


Helbronner Sector

Little change. Conditions are still good on the Marbrées traverse and the Aiguille d'Entrèves.

The Petit Flambeau is snow free.

Generally good conditions on the Jorasses traverse (the ridge is OK- well marked descent) but few teams due to the wind.

Arêtes de Rochefort: Getting up to the salle a manger is snow free. Pretty good conditions on the traverse despite a bit of ice and some rather thin bits.

Kuffner arête: The direct start is gradually becoming snow free (ice and mixed sections). The rimaye is crossable on the right hand side. The Androsace snow arete is very lean.

Traverse of the Aiguilles du Diable: The access couloir is becoming snow free: be careful if there are several teams in the couloir.

Crossing the Vallée Blanche: The glacier is opening up: beware of dangerous snow bridges on the main track on the Helbronner side


Aiguille du Midi sector

Mont-Blanc traverse: This route is becoming very technical. The rimaye on the Tacul is becoming more complicated. The rimaye at the top is still crossable but on a bridge above a big hole: a snow anchor (“corps mort”/dead man) is in place above (do not hesitate to use it). 2 technical ice axes are recommended for the section over the Maudit (bullet hard snow).

Triangle du Tacul: You can still think about the Contamine Grisolle. The Chéré couloir looks a bit sad.

Traverse of the Lachenal: There are frequent serac falls - you must keep well to the right on the descent and not dawdle (or even don't go).


Monzino sector

Inominata and Brouillard arêtes are being climbed.

Peuterey ridge: Busy.

Eccles couloir: Still snow.

Ratti Vitali, Red pillar, Freney pillar: Some snow on the ledges.



Lady Ann Chorley

We are saddened to learn of the death on 19 August of Lady Ann Chorley. She had become a member of the Ladies’ Alpine Club in 1966.

Report: 20th August 2021

A few pointers on this sunny weekend!

In general, the weather (sun, lack of wind, good re-freezing, isotherm not too high) and the conditions (glaciers and rimayes still relatively well filled in, faces / couloirs in reasonable condition) are finally favourable to (long) mixed routes. Despite everything, the mountains have dried well (the last precipitation was 10 days ago). But after all, it is the end of August!

Nothing to report as far as rock routes go!


Tour basin

Good conditions on the classics (normal route Aiguille du Tour - tête Blanche - Petite Fourche, arête de la Table).
Lots of traffic (especially at the start of the week) on the Forbes arête which is now more technical (ice on the Bosse and above the col on the descent: 2 axes needed).
The Migot spur is finished.


Argentière Basin

It's over for the Milieu glacier (ice + rockfall) except for very experienced parties who will want to descend down the arête du Jardin. This also means the end of the game for the Flèche Rousse.



The refuge will close on the 29th August.

It's still ok for the traverse of the Drus (but we say it every year, it's a long and technical route, be careful that you have both the ability and good experience in route finding otherwise you will take a long time).



Everything is dry except the Grandes Jorasses.


Envers des Aiguilles

The rimaye of the République / Grépon - Mer de Glace is still passable by the slab on the left bank (IV, blue pole in place). To join the start of the route there is a well marked traverse and an overhanging (but not wide) roture (gap between the snow and the rock).

However, the other route equipped by JS Knoertzer and Co to reach the new Tour Rouge hut is not recommended for everyone. It's steep, you have to know how to go up on fixed ropes (jumar recommended), check the condition of the equipment (ropes, knots) and there is some difficult climbing.


Helbronner sector

Always a lot of people on the classics. In these conditions, a 50 m rope (abseils of 25 m max) is enough for traversing the Marbrées and the Aiguille d'Entrêves.

Many teams on the Dent du Géant, fewer on the Rochefort arête (some icy sections are starting to appear).

Several teams on the Jorasses traverse. The rock section above the Canzio (Point Young) is dry. On the other hand, there is still a lot of snow further on which makes the route a little more difficult technically. Descent by the normal route OK. The Boccalate refuge is closed but the winter room (12 places, mattresses and blankets but no gas) remains accessible.

Conditions are still fine on the Kuffner (Frontier) ridge.

Traverse of the Aiguilles Diable: rimaye ok, the traverse to reach the couloir is on gravel but it's OK. The couloir itself is also getting dry (a few rocky bits, 2 axes are needed depending on your skill level).

All the Pointes are dry, you put crampons back on for the final mixed bit.


Aiguille du Midi sector

It's over for the Frendo for now (dry exit: ice and rockfall).

Conditions are still fine on the Midi-Plan even if here too, some bits have dried up (gravel / sand).

Cosmiques ridge:nothing to report except that we must not forget that despite its proximity and a certain degree of “banalisation”, this is a technical route and not easy. Normally it’s quite short (a half day), but several teams have been benighted ... Carefully question your grade and your mountaineering experience before doing it.

Traverse of the Pointes Lachenal: the descent from the last Pointe is exposed to the serac of the NE face of Tacul. You must keep well right. There is a bit of ice on the first Pointe (access to the traverse and the descent for the rock routes on the S face).

Mont Blanc via the Trois Monts: Tacul ok, do not follow a trail that goes to the left (going uphill) marked by a red flag which was left during a rescue in bad weather and which finishes up against a serac. There is some ice below the col du Mont Maudit (2 axes useful).

Pillar Gervasutti (from the PGHM): they have been pulling off more and more teams over the years. Conditions are getting looser and looser at the top. The terrain has changed a lot and even some local guides (who have done the route before) do not recognize it and some have had to seek help. Route therefore not recommended.


Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets

A bit of activity lately even with the refuge closed. Access is easier from the gite à Balmat even if you have to find your way around by making a curve to the right before returning to the refuge. Those who came up by the Gare des Glaciers took almost 4 hours to cross the Jonction.


Mont Blanc via the Goûter

Normal conditions for the time of year. The climb up to the Goûter is dry and you have to be there at the right time.


Dômes de Miage / Bionnassay sector

Still generally good conditions on the traverse of the Dômes. The NE ridge of the Bionnassay is narrow (but no ice) but you need to be good on your feet.


Gonella sector

No more water at the refuge which is closing its doors today. The winter room (12 places, mattresses and blankets but no gas) remains accessible.

The route to reach the Piton des Italiens is still in good condition (even if the glacier is "scary" when it is not frozen).


Monzino sector

Several teams on the Innominata, the snow has transformed well.

After a number of rescues last weekend (wind, a lot of snow), there is a track on the Brouillard ridge.

Blanche de Peuterey by the Schneider ledges OK. The col Eccles is still fine.

Peuterey arête is in good snow conditions. Some teams also on the Integral. Borelli open with mattress and blankets.

You can also climb the Red pillar which is gradually drying. No news from the Freney.

Still no one at Ratti-Vitale (Aiguille Noire de Peuterey) even if the Freney glacier is OK and the route is dry (visually). Lots of people on the S ridge (crampons not needed). The descent by the E ridge has been re-marked (yellow dots) and the belays refurbished.