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Everest: Nancy Hansen’s O2-Free Record Attempt

While there’s a media storm covering American Melissa Arnot’s attempt to become the first North American woman to climb Everest without supplemental oxygen, Canadian Nancy Hansen is quietly inching up the north side attempting to become the first Canadian to do so.

Nancy Hansen on a previous expedition.  Photo Alpine Club of Canada
Nancy Hansen on a previous expedition. Photo Alpine Club of Canada

Nancy Hansen is no stranger to challenges with Americans to become the first at something. Over the last decade, Hansen has been attempting to climb all 50 of the classic routes in Allen Steck and Steve Roper’s book, Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. Having climbed over 90 per cent of the routes in the book, Americans Mark and Janelle Smiley have been making a lot of noise in the media for their attempt at the same record, but they have climbed fewer than Hansen. With an EpicTV series and a big online following, there’s a clear difference in how Canadians and Americans approach record attempts in the news.

Correction: Francys Arsentiev was first North America woman to summit Everest without bottled O2, which means there is no “race” against Arnot for Hansen. If successfull, Hansen will be the first Canadian to summit Everest without bottled O2.

While Arnot is attempting Everest up the standard South Col route, Hansen is making an alpine attempt up the Norton Couloir on the north side of the world’s highest peak. With a higher commitment level than the normal route, Hansen has teamed up with Ralf Dujmovits, one of the world’s leading Himalayan climbers.

The team of two have already reached Everest’s north side basecamp and they are far from alone as there are nearly 150 international climbers attempting the peak from the north this year.

Everest North Side Base Camp. Photo by Ralf Dujmovits
Everest North Side Base Camp. Photo by Ralf Dujmovits

“Our set up in base camp reminds me a lot of the Alpine Club of Canada’s General Mountaineering Camp (GMC),” said Hansen. “We have a cook tent, cooking staff, dining tent, outhouse and shower tent. The differences are that we are at 5,150 metres, surrounded by a few hundred people, woken up by the ringing of yak bells and the occasional music-blaring motorcycle used by the Tibetans to commute back and forth to Tingri, and we are staring up at the north face of the tallest mountain on the planet. Other than those few details, it so far feels like a GMC.”

Hansen is not the only woman attempting Everest from the north without bottled O2. “The German AMICAL alpin group we are with are a great group of people and fun to hang out with,” said Hansen. “All three of us ladies in the group are climbing without supplemental oxygen – this is inspiring for me. Only five women have climbed Everest without bottled oxygen.”

More on Hansen’s Attempt

Canadian Raphael Slawinski is also attempting Everest from the north this spring. His team of three is trying a new route on the Northeast Face. Canadian Sharon Wood became the first North American woman to climb Everest in 1986.

In 1998, Francys Arsentiev became the first North American woman to summit Everest without bottled oxygen, but she died during the descent. That means Arnot is attempting to be the second woman to climb Everest without bottled O2.

Hansen’s ascent, if successful, would make her the first Canadian woman to climb Everest without bottled O2.

The North Face of Mount Everest 2015.  Photo Nancy Hansen
The North Face of Mount Everest 2015. Photo Nancy Hansen

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