The history of the first ascents to the highest mountains in the world
Nepal has been attracting the attention of climbers since the 1920s. From 1921 to 1940 about a dozen British expeditions tried to climb the northern, Tibetan slope of Chomolungma, but none of them reached the summit. Some of these expeditions ended tragically.
The Second World War interrupted climbing activities in the Himalayas for several years. After the war, travelers and climbers from many countries began to study the country and climb its peaks.
In 1950, French climbers Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenel were the first in history to ascend the summit of Annapurna 1 (8078 m). In 1955 Austrian climbers Steyimetz, Lobbichler and Wellenkamp made the first ascent of Annapurna IV (7524 m). In 1960, the British Bonington, Grant and the Sherpa Ang Nyima ascended Annapurna II (7937 m). In 1961, an Indian and two Sherpas of M.S.Koli’s expedition hoisted the Indian flag on the last unconquered summit of the massif – Annapurna III (7577 m).
In 1951, an English expedition led by E. Shipton tried to climb Chomolungma from the southwest, from Nepal. Having reached a huge icefall, lying at an altitude of 6 thousand meters, and having made sure of its great mobility, the climbers were forced to return.
In 1952, two Swiss expeditions to Chomolungma took place. Swiss mountaineer Lambert and Nepalese guide Norki Tenzing climbed to a height of 8600 m before reaching only 300 m to the summit.
In 1953, the British Royal Geographical Society and the English Alpine Club organized an expedition to Chomolungma led by John Hunt. The expedition was supplied with specially prepared equipment: lightweight oxygen devices, folding metal ladders, sledges, winches, etc. The route and climbing experience of the Swiss expeditions was carefully studied, the food supplies left by them in high-altitude camps were used, as well as the ropes stretched by the Swiss in dangerous places … Nine intermediate camps were organized along the route: the highest one was at an altitude of 8500 m (no climbing camps had ever been set up at such a high altitude). The last group of porters on May 28 delivered equipment and food to the ninth camp and went back, leaving two people there — the New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and the experienced Sherpa guide Minki Tenzing. The next day, early in the morning, two daredevils began their assault on the summit. The path was very difficult, it went along a narrow ridge with steep cliffs on both sides. After a tiring journey, every meter of which was overcome with great stress, at 11-30 am Hillary and Tenzing reached the summit and hoisted the flags of Nepal, India, Great Britain and the UN on it.
So, after more than a dozen attempts, undertaken in 32 years and costing many efforts, a person for the first time ascended to the highest point of the globe.
After the capture of Chomolungma, the interest of foreign climbers in Nepal did not wane at all.
In 1954, three expeditions to Makalu (the highest point of 8470 m) were equipped – American, British and French. But none of them reached the top. The following year, the French again moved to the assault on Makalu. This time their attempt was crowned with success – the summit was reached.
In 1954, members of the Austrian expedition G. Tikhy, I. Yohler and the Sherpa Pazang Dawa Lama made the first ascent of Choyu (8182 m). In the fall of 1959, the first ever women’s international expedition took place under the leadership of the famous French climber Claude Cohan. Athletes went to the assault on Chooyu. But the expedition ended tragically; during a severe blizzard, three members of the expedition died, including Claude Cohan.
The sixth tallest Himalayan giant, Dhaulagiri (8172 m), remained unconquered until 1960, although numerous attempts were made (French expedition in 1950, Swiss expedition 1953, Argentinean 1954 and 1956, Austro-Swiss 1957 and Austrian 1958). In May 1960, Swiss climbers arrived to storm Dhaulagiri. To save time and effort, the members of the expedition and cargo were delivered to the foot of the mountain by plane. Having established several camps at different heights, the climbers in two groups began their ascent. The top was first reached by four Swiss and two Nepalese from the first group – Dimberger, Schelbert, Faroe, Dealer, as well as Nima and Navang Dorier, and then two Swiss from the second group – Washer and Weber.
In 1955, an English expedition led by D. Evans reached the summit of Kanchenjunga.
The Himalayan mountain Manaslu (8128 m), which is the eighth highest in the world, was unsuccessfully attempted by Japanese climbers in 1952, 1953 and 1954. Only in 1956 their attempt was crowned with success. Japanese Imanishi and Sherpa Gialtsen Nurbu with incredible difficulty climbed the high peak of Manaslu, passing the last 20 m along the bare rocks.
In 1956, members of the Swiss expedition Reist and Lüchsinger made the first ascent of Lhotse (8545 m).