/ Top 10 greatest moments in Mountaineering

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Wanderer100 24 Jan 2020

In addition to the Top 10 greatest moments in rock climbing I thought it would be interesting to see peoples views on the Top 10 mountaineering moments in our history.

In no particular order these are the stand out moments for me.

1) The Eiger 1938 route. Heinrich Harrer and Co managed the first ascent of the North Face of the Eiger. A seismic moment in the history of Alpine climbs.

2) Boardman and Taskers 1976 ascent of the West Wall of Changabang. Changing what people though was possible in the Himalaya.

3) Scott and Boningtons 1977 climb of the Ogre. A true epic both in ascent and descent.

4)Walter Bonattis 1955 solo 5 day climb up the South West pillar of the Dru. Sadly the route no longer exists after being destroyed by rockfall in 2005.

5) Herzog, Terray, Lachenal, et al and their climb up Annapurna in 1950. The first 8000 metre peak to be climbed.

6) Hermann Buhls 1953 climb up Nanga Parbat. Solo and without oxygen and an overnight bivi on a tiny ledge yet lived to tell the tale although many didn't believe him. Many years later his ice axe was found on the summit.

7) Whympers climb up the Matterhorn in 1865. An amazing accomplishment to top off an absolute orgy of Alpine peak bagging.

8) Reinhold Messners solo climb up Everest in1980. He went up the Norton Couloir and came down to the South Col. He went from the summit to the South Col in under an hour. "I am nothing more than a single narrow gasping lung, floating over the mists and summits." Reinhold Messner, Everest.

9) Ueli Stecks speed ascent of the Eiger North Face. In 2008 he climbed the whole of the 1938 route in 2 hours and 47 minutes. The mind boggles!!! Sadly no longer with us.

10) Last and very definitely not least, Tilman and Odells climb up Nanda Devi in 1936. GIven it took Shipston and Tilman nearly 3 years just to find a way into the sanctuary it was a remarkable piece of mountaineering. 

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MG 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

Getrude Bell's almost ascent of the NE Face Finsteraarhorn in 1902 is pretty impressive - ED

Some info here

https://www.alpinejournal.org.uk/Contents/Contents_2004_files/AJ%202004%20176-182%20Venables%20Finsteraarhorn.pdf

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jbrom 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

> 3) Scott and Boningtons 1977 climb of the Ogre. A true epic both in ascent and descent.

If you want to find out more about this, I think there was a tour where Doug Scott talked about it, not sure they advertised it much though.

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Mark Bannan 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

I would suggest the one you selected first is still clearly the best.

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Robert Durran 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

For a start I'd replace Steck's Eiger speed ascent with his solo route on Annapurna's S. Face. It seemed to me that this was his defining climb and a step up in what was possible with all the alpine speed stuff relegated to mere preparation leading up to it.

Also I think you are conflating Messner's first oxgenless ascent of Everest from the south with his solo ascent from the north (which I would include).

I think it might be appropriate to have something of Mummery's or of his era after the "golden age" when standards started to be really pushed on harder lines in the Alps.

I would also put Bonatti's swansong on the Mattthorn N. Face right up there.

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PaulJepson 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

Messner cited the British Everest North Face expedition as being instrumental in him taking on Everest without Oxygen (before the British summit party shiver-bivvied just below the summit, without oxygen, it wasn't seen as possible to survive that high). 

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graeme jackson 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

You've missed out Chris O'Donnells use of Nitroglycerin to rescue his sister on K2.

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Wanderer100 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

> For a start I'd replace Steck's Eiger speed ascent with his solo route on Annapurna's S. Face. It seemed to me that this was his defining climb and a step up in what was possible with all the alpine speed stuff relegated to mere preparation leading up to it.

I know but 2 hours 47 minutes! It takes me nearly that long to rack up!

> Also I think you are conflating Messner's first oxgenless ascent of Everest from the south with his solo ascent from the north (which I would include)

I'm referring to his solo climb up the North Face in 1980 where he climbed up Nortons couloir and then descended the south east ridge to the south col. His first ascent was from the south and wasnt solo. 78 I think. But you are correct. The quote about the lung was from his 78 ascent.

> I think it might be appropriate to have something of Mummery's or of his era after the "golden age" when standards started to be really pushed on harder lines in the Alps.

Any suggestions?

> I would also put Bonatti's swansong on the Mattthorn N. Face right up there.

Yep. A masterclass in North Face solo climbing.

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Robert Durran 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

> I'm referring to his solo climb up the North Face in 1980 where he climbed up Nortons couloir and then descended the south east ridge to the south col. 

I'm pretty certain he descended back the way he had come. A quick google finds a reference to him descending back to his tent and then back to advance base camp.

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Pedro50 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

> I'm pretty certain he descended back the way he had come. A quick google finds a reference to him descending back to his tent and then back to advance base camp.

Robert is correct. He essentially descended his ascent route. 

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Wanderer100 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

I stand corrected.  He did indeed descend by the way of ascent. The sub 1 hour descent to the South Col sticks in my mind. Any idea who that was? I've convinced myself it was Messner but apparently not.

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PaulJepson 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

Peter Habeler, I believe. Messner's partner on his oxygen-less Everest ascent. 

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morpcat 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

Many amazing feats in Patagonia that might be worth a mention. First proper ascent of Cerro Torre, Torre Traverse, Fitzroy Traverse, Fitzroy solo, Torre Egger solo...

Also, Mazeno ridge on Manga Parbat sounded like quite the epic.

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WaterMonkey 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

Bear Gryll’s ascent of Everest

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Pursued by a bear 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

K2 seems a notable omission.  However, I'd argue that the 1985 climb up the Shining Wall of Gasherbrum IV by Kurtyka and Schauer needs to be on the list. A remarkable climb on a beautiful mountain that would be better known were it but a little higher. But perhaps that's no bad thing.

From Wikipedia:

"1985 First ascent of the 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high west face ("Shining Wall") by Wojciech Kurtyka (Poland) and Robert Schauer (Austria). However, bad weather, depletion of food and fuel, and extreme exhaustion forced them to stop at the north summit. The editors of Climbing magazine considered it the greatest achievement of mountaineering in the twentieth century."

T.

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Wanderer100 24 Jan 2020
In reply to MG:

Great story! 

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Damo 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

> For a start I'd replace Steck's Eiger speed ascent with his solo route on Annapurna's S. Face. It seemed to me that this was his defining climb and a step up in what was possible with all the alpine speed stuff relegated to mere preparation leading up to it.

Given that Steck's summit claim for his Shishapangma solo is about as disproved as you can get without a (now impossible) mea culpa, it's impossible to 100% accept his Annapurna claim, given similar holes in the story. The info is all out there on that for anyone who wants to do the research.

There have been a number of big, hard solos in earlier years, so Steck's climb, if it did happen, was not some quantum leap. Also, it was repeated a week later by a French pair, with evidence of their climb and summit, so again, probably not that great a step up.

Post edited at 22:51
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PaulJepson 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

Hummingbird Ridge on Mount Logan.

Still awaiting a repeat.

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Robert Durran 25 Jan 2020
In reply to Damo:

> Given that Steck's summit claim for his Shishapangma solo is about as disproved as you can get without a (now impossible) mea culpa, it's impossible to 100% accept his Annapurna claim, given similar holes in the story. The info is all out there on that for anyone who wants to do the research.

> There have been a number of big, hard solos in earlier years, so Steck's climb, if it did happen, was not some quantum leap. Also, it was repeated a week later by a French pair, with evidence of their climb and summit, so again, probably not that great a step up.


I wasn't aware of those doubts. Very disappointing if true. I'd understood that the French pair who repeated the route were simply in awe of Steck's achievement.

Which other Himalayan solos would you rate highly?

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AlanLittle 25 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

Much better than the ridiculous rock climbing list that was posted recently.

Maybe House/Anderson Rupal Face alpine style.

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AlanLittle 25 Jan 2020
In reply to PaulJepson:

> Messner cited the British Everest North Face expedition as being instrumental in him taking on Everest without Oxygen (before the British summit party shiver-bivvied just below the summit, without oxygen, it wasn't seen as possible to survive that high). 

South West Face - I assume you're referring to Scott & Haston. Scott's photo of sunset from the summit looks pretty until you consider the implications.

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AlanLittle 25 Jan 2020
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

Something done by mad Poles should definitely be on the list.

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Pursued by a bear 25 Jan 2020
In reply to AlanLittle:

Everest's SW Face has been climbed alpine-style which, whilst perhaps not in the top ten greatest moments in mountaineering, is certainly a feat which deserves to be better known.  It ended badly, which may account for the lack of celebration.

Again, from Wikipedia (page about the 1975 SW face expedition):

"The Southwest Face was climbed by a Slovak expedition in 1988 when four climbers reached the South Summit in alpine style with no supplementary oxygen. Jozef Just [sk] went on to reach the main summit on 17 October but on the descent they all disappeared in a strong storm after their last radio contact with the base saying they were on the way to the South Col. Their bodies were never found"

T.

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tjekel 25 Jan 2020
In reply to AlanLittle:

Include czek and slovaks. They seem to have done the cirst winter ascent of close to every northfacing chosspile only held together by ice in the alps. 

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Pefa 25 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

First female ascent of Peak Lenin (23,400 ft) Tajikistan in 1974 with earthquakes, toggle closing tents in hurricane winds at 23,000 ft and determined Soviet women. 

https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2020/01/sport/russian-climbers-peak-lenin-spt-intl/

Post edited at 20:50
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Trangia 25 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

John Hunt's expedition which made the first ascent of Everest by Tensing and Hillary in 1953. Surely the most notable achievement in the history of mountaineering at the time following 3 decades of failure by previous expeditions?

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ianstevens 25 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

The thousands of ascents of Mount Peak Snowden every year

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Wanderer100 25 Jan 2020
In reply to Trangia:

> John Hunt's expedition which made the first ascent of Everest by Tensing and Hillary in 1953. Surely the most notable achievement in the history of mountaineering at the time following 3 decades of failure by previous expeditions?

I see it as 3 decades of steady progress. Ultimately the pieces of the jigsaw all fell into place. It could just have easily been the Swiss who made the first successful ascent. It was a notable moment in the history of mountaineeng in the Himalayas but Top 10 mountaineering moments?  For me Herzog and the French teams ascent of Annapurna was truly ground breaking and much more notable. 

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Trangia 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

It's all subjective, but, it was still the first ascent of the highest mountain in the world. In terms of notability it came at a time of great promise as the World was emerging  from the horrors and chaos of the War, and what in Britain was heralded as the beginning of a great Elizabethan era. The news of the ascent coming on the eve of the Coronation was impeccable. In terms of noteworthiness I would put it on a par with the first moon landing. There have been much greater scientific and engineering achievements in Space exploration, in the same way that there have been technically much greater achievements in mountaineering  but none have had the same impact on World News as those two events did.

I remember hearing about Annapurna as a young lad, but I had never heard of it before, nor had anyone else I knew, including friends and family and it meant little at the time. On the other hand I well remember the euphoria and excitement over Everest which everyone knew and had heard of. 

I realise now that your OP was aimed at the mountaineering community rather than the World at large, but you didn't specify that, but after all this is a Climbing Forum

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GCO 26 Jan 2020

What about the 1970 Annapurna South Face ascent by Whillans and Haston? 
 

if I recall correctly, the summit pair didn’t use oxygen and the concept of such a big wall at that sort of altitude was visionary.

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Doug 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Trangia:

"I remember hearing about Annapurna as a young lad, but I had never heard of it before, nor had anyone else I knew, including friends and family and it meant little at the time"

But had you been living in France at the time I suspect you would have thought it a huge event, just shows how our viewpoints are shaped, to a greater or lesser extent, by where we live

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Robert Durran 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Trangia:

>  There have been much greater scientific and engineering achievements in Space exploration, in the same way that there have been technically much greater achievements in mountaineering  but none have had the same impact on World News as those two events did.

The Apollo programme at the time was so cutting edge that it still almost defies belief that it actually happened, but was the first ascent of Everest really cutting edge or only significant because they got to the top? It was certainly a big moment to the wider public, but how significant was it in purely mountaineering terms? I'm not sure it even marked the beginning or end of an era.

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Pursued by a bear 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

>? I'm not sure it even marked the beginning or end of an era.

It closed a chapter, certainly.  And I think it, and the ascent of Annapurna before it, validated the siege-style of climbing big mountains.  History could have been different if Shipton and Tilman had successfully gone for the summit in a lightweight style instead of doing a full reconnaisance a few years prior.

T.

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Robert Durran 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

>> > I think it might be appropriate to have something of Mummery's or of his era after the "golden age" when standards started to be really pushed on harder lines in the Alps.

> Any suggestions?

I've just had a look through my copy of My Climbs In The Alps And The Caucasus and several extraordinary climbs suggest themselves.

Maybe the first ascent of the Zmutt Ridge* in 1879 just 14 years after Whymper's ascent brought the Golden Age to an end.

It also occurs to me that exploration moving away from the Alps was highly significant. Maybe Mummery's first ascent of Dych Tau in the Caucasus by the south west ridge in 1888 is a contender. I repeated this route in 1996 (I think probably the second British ascent 109 years after Mummery!) and we were a bit in awe of his achievement, especially since he did it up and down in a day while we took more than three - and we were no slouches at the time!

But maybe the move to the Himalayas was more significant - Mummery's tragic attempt on Nanga Parbat pointed way ahead of its time.

https://www.summitpost.org/albert-frederick-mummery-the-man-who-dared-nanga-parbat/967257

* While on the subject of the Matterhorn, maybe the first ascent of the N. Face in 1932 is a possibility, marking the start of the move to the major N. Faces (or is there an earlier contender?).

Post edited at 11:26
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Fredt 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

Crossing South Georgia by Shackleton, Worsley and Crean in 1916.

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Doug 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

although it could be argued that the North Face of the Matterhorn was one of a series of such routes, many involving Willo Welzenbach - see list at https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willo_Welzenbach - and starting in the 1920s. As an aside it seems strange that there is no English wikipedia page for Welzenbach although there is a biography in English by Eric Roberts

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ena sharples 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

I've always thought Mummery way ahead of his time too. I sometimes think the same about Crowley on K2 then I remember he was just bonkers.

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newtonmore 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

i would add sandy allan and rick allan mazeno ridge route on nanga parbet to this list for sure, amazing achievement. 

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Trangia 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

Another first ascent was that of Dr Charles Warren and Colin Kirkus of  Bhagirathi III in 1933 in 5 days proving that a lightweight summit ascent of a Himalayan peak was possible by just two men unsupported by a huge number of porters. Warren then went on to be the Medical Officer on several of the pre-war Everest Expeditions. Sadly Kirkus was killed serving with Bomber Command in WW2.

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ena sharples 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Trangia:

Thought that was Santopanth?

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Robert Durran 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Doug:

> although it could be argued that the North Face of the Matterhorn was one of a series of such routes, many involving Willo Welzenbach - see list at https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willo_Welzenbach - and starting in the 1920s. As an aside it seems strange that there is no English wikipedia page for Welzenbach although there is a biography in English by Eric Roberts

Yes, I've read that book. An extraordinary and influential record of climbs, but one great moment? That's the problem with this sort of thing!

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Annoying Twit 09 Feb 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

If we're talking about moments rather than achievements, I would like to include The Belay on K2 in 1953 in the list.  Not necessarily in the No. 1.  position, but somewhere on the list. 

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bouldery bits 09 Feb 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

You can't have Steck but no Killian.

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Robert Durran 10 Feb 2020
In reply to bouldery bits:

> You can't have Steck but no Killian.

Why? Their achievements are not really comparable.

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bouldery bits 10 Feb 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

Steck goes up it quite quickly and knocks a bit off the record.

Killian nips ups  knocksand  a bi off the record. Then, he comes back down and decides he can do better and pops back up to smash the record.  A genuine quantum leap.

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John2 10 Feb 2020
In reply to Wanderer100:

In terms of sheer difficulty the traverse of the Fitzroy chain by Caldwell and Honnold in 2014 must be worth a mention.

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Robert Durran 10 Feb 2020
In reply to bouldery bits:

> Steck goes up it quite quickly and knocks a bit off the record.

> Killian nips ups  knocksand  a bi off the record. Then, he comes back down and decides he can do better and pops back up to smash the record.  A genuine quantum leap.

What record?

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