WASHINGTON (May 1, 2013)—In 1963, a National Geographic Society-supported expedition reached the peak of Mount Everest — the first group of Americans to successfully summit the world’s tallest mountain. In 2012, a team of climbers sponsored by the Society and The North Face and led by acclaimed mountaineer Conrad Anker attempted a Legacy Climb in honor of the expedition’s 50th anniversary. The Legacy Expedition had two goals: to repeat the challenging 1963 West Ridge climb by a small team; and to undertake a scientific, educational project by a second team ascending the standard Southeast Ridge to the summit and doing medical, geological and geographical research along the way. Due to adverse conditions, the West Ridge team had to abandon its climb via that route.
This spring, the National Geographic Society will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition and detail the 2012 Legacy Climb in a new book, THE CALL OF EVEREST: The History, Science, and Future of the World’s Tallest Peak (National Geographic Books; ISBN 978-1-4262-1016-7; on-sale date: May 14, 2013; $35 hardcover). A June 2013 National Geographic magazine article will focus on problems that have developed on the mountain and how to address them.
THE CALL OF EVEREST takes a comprehensive look at the significance of Mount Everest through scientific analysis of its geology and climate, through captivating anecdotes from climbers and from insight into the people and the history of the area.
Divided into eight chapters, leading experts in their field examine the mountain from various viewpoints:
- “The Meaning of Everest,” by Conrad Anker — undertaking the ultimate test of human performance, and what the mountain means to climbers all over the world;
- “The Birth of Everest,” by David Lageson, professor of structural geology at Montana State University — the geological and geophysical aspects of the mountain and how they formed over time;
- “The People of Everest,” by award-winning author Broughton Coburn — the history of the Sherpas and their place in the world today;
- “The Nature of Everest,” by conservationist and mountain geographer Alton C. Byers — the flora and fauna that exist in the thin air of Nepal, and the landscapes in the area;
- “The Climbers of Everest,” by author and winner of the 2007 BANFF Summit of Excellence Award Bernadette McDonald — a look back at the influential climbers and expeditions to summit the mountain;
- “The Agonies of Everest,” by Mayo Clinic respiratory expert Bruce Johnson, Ph.D. — the failed and fatal attempts to summit the peak as well as how the body reacts to the atmosphere, including medical analysis from the Mayo Clinic;
- “One Season on Everest,” by writer and 2012 Legacy Climb team member Mark Jenkins, who also wrote the June 2013 National Geographic magazine article — his personal story of his time spent on Mount Everest during the Legacy Expedition;
- “The Future of Everest,” by mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears, the first American to reach the summit of Everest twice — how the legend of the tallest mountain in the world grows with each new generation of adventurers.
THE CALL OF EVEREST includes 180 photographs and 20 maps, showcasing the majesty of the area. Short essays and personal stories are included in the “Voices” section of each chapter, featuring Everest experts such as Jane Summers, Wade Davis, Hilaree O’Neill and Edwin Bernbaum. The book also highlights the advancements in equipment over the last century, looking at the tents, backpacks, water containers and more used both then and now.
The book’s foreword is written by Thomas Hornbein, a member of the 1963 American expedition. He looks back on his pioneering ascent and compares the conditions on Everest then to what they are today.
Mark Jenkins’ June National Geographic magazine article, titled “Maxed Out on Everest: How to Restore Sanity to the Top of the World,” looks at ways that conditions on the mountain can be improved. He focuses on the largely man-made dangers: overcrowding on the mountain, inexperienced climbers, pollution and the altering of seasonal climbing windows. Jenkins tells the story of the elite climbing team led by Anker, of which he was a member last year, including how it was stuck at choke-points on the mountain in a “conga-line” of hundreds of other climbers.