The Greatest Moments In American Mountaineering

PrintPrintEmailEmail 8 First Ascent of Everest East Face, 1983

In 1921 the British mountaineer George Leigh Mallory made a reconnaissance of the East Face of Mount Everest on the Tibetan side of the mountain, and concluded “it was not for us.” For the next six decades, no climber of any nationality disputed that judgment. But in 1980 the American climber Andy Harvard made a solo reconnaissance of the East (or Kangshung) Face, and spotted a possible route to the summit. An American expedition in the fall of 1981 had to give up midway. A second expedition in 1983, led by Jim Morrissey, was more successful. On October 8, 1983, Carlos Buhler, Kim Momb, and Lou Reichardt reached the summit, marking the second time that Americans had pioneered a daring new route up the mountain.

9 First Winter Solo Ascent of Mount Denali, 1988

Climbing a mountain alone is harder than climbing it with partners; climbing a mountain in winter is harder than climbing it in warmer seasons. Climbing alone in winter is a daunting prospect even for the hardiest professional mountaineers. In 1984 the Japanese climber Naomi Uemura reached the summit of Mount Denali on a solo ascent, but disappeared on his descent. Four years later, on March 7, 1988, Vernon Tejas, an Alaskan mountain guide became the first solo climber to ascend Mount Denali in the winter and make it back alive.

10 Ed Viesturs Becomes the First American to Climb All 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks, 2005

The Rainier mountain guide Ed Viesturs made his first successful climb of an 8,000-meter peak, Kangchenjunga, in 1989. Sixteen years later, on May 12, 2005, he reached the summit of Annapurna (on his third attempt). In doing so, he became the first American and only the twelfth climber to reach the summit of all 14 8,000-meter peaks. He climbed all every one without the aid of bottled oxygen.