Out There This spring's newsmakers on Everest: chasing history and solving a mystery

April 18, 2004

The past few seasons atop Mount Everest have seen many
firsts--the first blind climber, the first black climber and the
first live television transmission. But it's been nearly a decade
since anyone has sent a new route. (A Japanese team was the last
to do so, in 1995, ascending the northeast ridge.) This spring a
group of 20 climbers from Russia is attempting a new route up the
center of the North Face. Wedged between the Hornbein and Great
Couloir on the Tibetan side, this route, along the central
pillar, is a highly technical climb studded with complex turrets.
The Russian team, led by Viktor Kozlov, met its first resistance
last week when its porters, concerned that the proposed route was
unsafe, refused to budge beyond the first advanced base camp....
Last year climbers celebrated the 50th anniversary of Edmund
Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's historic first summit. This year
some die-hard skeptics are trying to prove the duo weren't really
the first to reach the top of the world. In 1924 British climbers
George Mallory and Andrew (Sandy) Irvine vanished near the
summit. A team from EverestNews.com is currently on the mountain
searching for Irvine's body and camera in an effort to crack the
mountain's greatest mystery. Mallory's frozen body and some of
his artifacts were recovered in 1999 by a 11-climber team led by
Eric Simonson. However, there was not enough evidence to prove
that the climbers had reached the top.... High-altitude
cinematographer David Breashears and ace mountaineer Ed Viesturs
are gathering footage for director Stephen Daldry's new movie,
Everest, which will chronicle the May 1996 disaster that claimed
the lives of eight climbers. Last week Breashears, who himself
made an IMAX documentary called Everest, filmed scenes from the
Khumba Ice Falls. Along with his cinematic obligations Viesturs,
44, plans to knock off his sixth summit of Everest. After that,
he'll head to northern Nepal to attempt 26,545-foot Annapurna,
the final 8,000-meter peak he needs to bag to become the first
U.S. climber and sixth person to summit all 14 without
supplemental oxygen.

COLOR PHOTO: WWW.MOUNTAIN.RU VIKTOR THE GREAT Kozlov's team set up at advanced base camp lastweek.