Everest '97 Cybercast
Unlike any other expedition, an attempt on the world's highest mountain catches our attention and imagination. Join The Mountain Zone as we go along with Todd Burleson and his 1997 Alpine Ascents International team to climb Mount Everest. We hope to explore what a high-altitude, big-mountain expedition is and use the full extent of our technology to share it with you.
We'd like to bring you the details. The rhododendron forests on the trek-in, Sherpas with the speed and strength of world-class climbers, and what it's really like day-to-day on Everest. What we don't intend to do is ask why. If there is a point where human striving meets the abyss of unchecked risk, high-altitude climbing is it. The summit of the world's highest mountain is at 29,028 feet -- in the jet-stream -- over 5 miles up, where the atmospheric pressure is about a third that at sea level. Each breath takes in a third of the accustomed oxygen, each step is a struggle, and the smallest decision could have serious consequences. What drives people there to risk themselves and the peace of those who care for them touches on the essence of human nature.
One of America's most experienced Everest climbers, Burleson gave up his expedition last year to take a leading role in the search and rescue efforts of the 1996 tragedy. This year, he will head-up an unusually strong team of climbers on the classic South Side/South Col route. The purpose of this climb is not just to reach the summit, but to also take up equipment that, with radar and GPS technology, will map the true rock summit and measure change in the Everest massif itself.
So, join us this spring as one of the greatest adventures of our time begins anew. For on Everest, nothing is certain. The mountain can challenge climbers in unforeseen ways, and skill alone is not always enough.
Tom Hornbein, who made an alpine style traverse of the mountain 30 years ahead of its time, said it all: "people will always be drawn to Everest."
-- Peter Potterfield & Anya Zolotusky, Mountain Zone Staff
Todd Burleson guides the summit ridge on Everest
Just the Facts
Elevation: 29, 028'; five miles up; the world's highest summit is at about cruising altitude of a jet
First Ascent: 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary, NZ and Tenzing Norgay, Nepal
Because it's there: in 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, GBR, were last seen going strong for the top. It is unknown if they reached the summit before disappearing.
First Oxygenless Ascent: 1978, Reinhold Messner & Peter Habeler, AUS
Wind: climber Dave Breashears has compared the ominous sound of evening winds on the upper mountain to that of a 747 jet taking off endlessly.
Narrow Window: weather on Everest permits reasonable climbing only in May and October between winter snows and summer monsoons.
As good a reason as any: "Expeditions are good spacers -- time and distance for weighing and evaluating life back home as well as beginning to understand somewhere new." -- Pete Boardman, 1975, from "Everest the Hard Way"