Saturday, September 19, 2015

Everest South West Face | Forty Years since the First Ascent

Dougal Haston on the south west face of Everest 1975
On September 24th 1975 two climbers from Britain, Doug Scott and Dougal Haston reached the summit of Everest by the unclimbed South West Face after a bivouac near the South Summit of Everest.

The expedition led by Sir Chris Bonington also climbed the mountain by the South Col route when two climbers Peter Boardman and  Pertemba Sherpa summitted the peak. Sadly, the cameraman Mick Burke who was also with them was lost near the summit in bad weather.

The enormous south west face of Everest was one of the big wall challenges in the Himalaya.

In 1970, Chris Bonington's team had successfully climbed the huge south wall of Annapurna I from the south side, what is now popularly known as ABC (Annapurna Base Camp).

The south west face expedition laid siege on the mountain in the manner of the earlier British expeditions on Everest. There were a series of camps on the mountain and Doug Scott and Dougal Haston made the climb from the highest Camp VI  below the upper snowfield.

Today is almost the 40th anniversary of the first successful ascent and the south west face is still attempted though in variation to the original route climbed by Haston and Scott.

Some photographs from that climb are below:

Haston climbing the Hillary Step

Doug Scott on the summit of Everest 1975

The enormous  south west face of Everest from the Western Cwm

Though Haston, Boardman and Burke have passed away,  all in climbing accidents, Chris Bonington now 80 and Doug Scott are still climbing together as seen in this photograph below on the crags in England!

On 23rd September 2015 a lecture will be held in Oxford which will include all the surviving members of the 1975 expedition. For more details on this lecture please do visit 


  1. Everest SW Face, the name of the book about Bonington's first attempt on this face, was the book (borrowed from the British Council Library in Kolkata) that made me decide to head for the mountains. His other book Everest the Hard Way told the story of the successful SW Face climb in 1975. All of Bonington's books inspired me in my modest trips to the mountains and I still remember the thrill of meeting him briefly at a Himalayan Club seminar in Mumbai more than 20 years ago.

  2. Wow. This is inspiring ! I recently watched Everest movie. Magic of the mountains cannot be explained in the words :)



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