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June 16, 2010
"The Ascent of
Masherbrum: 50 years later"
by Tom Hornbein
We are indeed pleased
to have well known American mountaineer
Tom Hornbein reconstruct the the first ascent of Masherbrum for us
in words and photos. Tom was a member of the original first ascent team.
teams 1953 view of Masherbrum from the Baltoro Glacier in northern
Masherbrum was first
climbed on July 6, 1960 by LAM member
George Irving Bell and
Willi Unsoeld, as part of the American-Pakistan Karakoram Expedition
led by Nick Clinch. They succeeded in climbing the southeast face that
had stymied earlier attempts.
George ascending a
steep snow gully,
the crux leading to the saddle between
the two summits of Masherbrum.
George approaching Willi at the summit of Masherbrum. The
south and lower summit is in the background.
feet, Masherbrum is the 22nd highest peak in the world. According to the
Himalayan index, there have been only three subsequent ascents. The Los Alamos Mountaineers honor this
historical climb and an esteemed member by featuring Masherbrum (as seen
from the Hushe Valley near Kande) as our club logo.
George Bell on the
approach to Masherbrum.
The American Alpine
Journal published an
account of the climb written by Willi Unsoeld.
Our speaker, Tom Hornbein,
is perhaps best known for his and Willi Unsoeld's first ascent of
Everest's West Ridge in 1963. The three prior ascents of the
mountain had been made via the South Col/Southeast Ridge and the North
Col. Willi and Tom's hope was to climb up the West Ridge and down the
Southeast Ridge/South Col route. This would make theirs the first
traverse of an 8000-meter peak. A narrow gully penetrating the uppermost
part of the mountain is now known as the 'Hornbein Couloir'. In his book
'Into Thin Air', Jon Krakauer writes that "Hornbein's and Unsoeld's
ascent was--and continues to be--deservedly hailed as one of the great
feats in the annals of mountaineering."
Activities before the Program:
The club will make a special
presentation to Virginia (Ginny) Bell for her own and George's
inspiration to all of us who live the outdoor life. The event will
begin with a social time and a special
logo cake at 7:30 PM, followed
by a brief business meeting and award ceremony for Virginia.