Canadians Approach Everest’s North Side
Canadian alpinists Nancy Hansen and Raphael Slawinski are no stranger to big objectives. While on separate expeditions to the north side of Everest, they are both attempting bold routes.
There have been just over 7,000 ascents of Everest and 97 per cent have been up the Southeast Ridge and the North Ridge. That’s what makes Hansen and Slawinski’s attempts so noteworthy, neither climber is attempting the mentioned routes and neither climber’s expedition is bringing supplemental oxygen.
Slawinski and Germans David Goettler and Daniel Bartsch are currently making their way north side of Everest to attempt a new route on the Northeast Face. There hasn’t been a new route on Everest since 2004. The Northeast Face starts at 6,500 metres and tops out around 8,000 metres at the North Ridge and has only one established route, a 1996 Russian Route.
“On top, we lounged and socialized with members of the other expeditions bound for Everest. “Is this what the summit’s like?” I wondered aloud. However, to find out I’d have to get up there first. And tomorrow we might get our first glimpse of the mountain from Tingri, the last stop on our journey from tropical Kathmandu to the barren surroundings of basecamp.”
Read More on Slawinski’s Climb Here
Not far from Slawinski, in Everest terms, Hansen will is approaching the north face proper with partner Ralf Dujmovits to attempt the Norton Couloir. Hansen has worked on and off for the Alpine Club of Canada for the past 19 years. She is the first woman to have climbed all 11,000-foot peaks in the Canadian Rockies and is now working on something no other woman (or man) has done: climb all 50 Classic Climbs of North America. She is the 2014 recipient of the Guy Lacelle Pure Spirit Award.
Dujmovits has climbed all 14 eight-thousanders, and is the only German to do so. On Everest in 1992, he used bottled oxygen – something he sees as a blemish by today. He’s climbed Everest seven times, four from Tibet and last year Dujmovits reached there an altitude of 8,300 metres on the Northeast Ridge.
Hansen and Dujmovits’s route, the Norton Couloir, is named for Briton Edward Norton, who in 1924 reached 8,573 metres before turning back to rescue a teammate.
Here are some words from Hansen’s Alpine Club of Canada blog:
“Ralf has known Ms. Elizabeth Hawley (The Keeper of the Mountains) for 30 years, and she invited us to her apartment for a visit. She is 91 now, but still hard at work keeping records of ascents in the Himalayas. A German woman named Billi Bierling is helping her.
“Both are essentially volunteers – it is really quite amazing. Ms. Hawley was in good spirits and seems as sharp as ever. She has a bit of trouble getting around these days, but her blue Volkswagen Beetle and Nepalese driver are as trusty as ever. She pulled out an original copy of a book that was written about the 1924 British attempts on Everest. In it was Edward Norton’s first-hand account of his attempt of the Norton Couloir.
“We got some good beta, and were fascinated to read that he believed ‘there is nothing in the atmospheric conditions that should stop anyone from climbing to 29,000 feet without the use of supplemental oxygen.’ Norton climbed to just over 8,600 m (28,000 ft) in 1924 without bottled oxygen – an altitude record that stood for over 50 years.”
Read More on Hansen’s Climb here
Sources: Alpine Club of Canada, National Geographic, 8,000ers.com