South Pillar Route
Your adrenaline pumps as the cold wind brushes your face. You have to pinch yourself, if you can get beneath all those layers of clothing, knowing this is a dream you’ve been preparing yourself for most of your life. Here it is towering in front of you – Everest! Nothing will ever compensate for the emotions and feelings you experience as you ascend slowly to the top of the summit.
The South Pillar is considered one of the safer routes that one can take up Mount Everest, although when dealing with these incredible heights one has to question the meaning of “safe” when placing it next to the word “Everest”. It almost seems impossible. The South pillar (route 7) was first attempted in 1980 by Jerzy Kukuczka and Andrzei Czok, two renowned Polish climbers whose experience in the art of climbing, specifically the Alps, is insurmountable. To date this route has been climbed over 17 times and has only incurred one fatality unlike some of the more ‘treacherous’ routes.
The one fatality recorded was of Josef Psotka who died while descending when he unfortunately fell to his death. However, when you probe into the account a little deeper, you will notice that the fatal fall actually occurred from the side of the Lhotse Face and so it can be said that gratefully at this point no fatalities have occurred on the South Pillar route. Most climbers, however, find the climb a challenge – as it is – and will normally opt for the ‘gentler’ South East Ridge route which is further below.
Not many people are able to say they have ascended Everest five times, but for Dawa Temba, a Sherpa from Namche in Solukhumbu, this has been a grand privilege. His first summit was on the 23 May 1977 along the Standard South East Ridge route; thereafter in October of 1994 he again went along the Standard South East Ridge route but in accordance with a British expedition. Later in 1999 and 2000 he ascended for the third and fourth time along the Standard South East Ridge. Lastly in the same year he again summated via the South Pillar along with the Danish Expedition. He has set an amazing record that many will not even dream of repeating.