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The Mountains We Have Climbed - Celebrating International Mountain Day
December 11 marks International Mountain Day, an occasion designated by the United Nations to annually recognise the importance of mountains to life. It serves to educate the wider public, mobilise resources and steer political power to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and for mountain people. If you know the history of Mountain Designs, then you'll know mountains played an enormous role in the brand coming to exist. You'll also know that mountains have been a huge part ever since, with Mountain Designs supporting an incredible number of adventurers and explorers on summit attempts around the world. So you can learn more about International Mountain Day here but read on below to learn about some of the incredible mountains that Mountain Designs gear has seen the summit of.
1. Mt Everest, Elevation: 8,848m
Mountain Designs was there the first time an Australian stood atop the world, outfitting Tim Macartney-Snape and Greg Mortimer when they summited Mt Everest on the 3rd October, 1984. They made their climb via a previously untrekked route - White Limbo - up the North Face without supplementary oxygen. Macartney-Snape returned in 1990 to complete a 'Sea to Summit' expedition, journeying from the Bay of Bengal at sea level to the peak of the world's tallest mountain. Some of the other Aussies that Mountain Designs has supported to the top of Everest include Michael Groom (1993 and 1996), Duncan Chessell and Mark Auricht (2001), Sue Fear (2003), Lincoln Hall (2006) and more recently Alyssa Azar, who at just 19 years of age became the youngest Australian to summit (2016; she also did it again in 2018).
In 1984, Tim Macartney-Snape became the first Australian to summit Mt Everest (left) while Alyssa Azar was Australia's youngest climber to reach the top of the world, seen here on her second ascent in 2018 (right). (Images courtesy of Tim Macartney-Snape/Greg Mortimer, and Alyssa Azar)
2. K2, Elevation: 8,611m
K2, located on the China-Pakistan border, is the second highest mountain in the world and is often touted among mountaineers as the toughest climb. In 1990, Mountain Designs supported Greg Child and Greg Mortimer on the first Australian ascent, via the North Ridge. Andrew Lock (1993) and Michael Groom (1994) have also made it to the top.
3. Kangchenjunga, Elevation: 8,586m
Kangchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world and sits in the Himalayas at the far east of Nepal. Its name means Five Treasures of the Great Snow, a reference to its five summits. In 1987, Michael Groom and John Coulton achieved the first Australian ascent. Groom lost all of his toes to frostbite on the trek back down the mountain, but it wouldn't prevent him from later in 1995 becoming the first Australian (and fourth person in the world) to reach the summits of the four highest mountains without the assistance of bottled oxygen.
4. Lhotse, Elevation: 8,516m
Lhotse is part of the Everest massif, connected to the latter peak via the South Col. The summit is on the border between Tibet and the Khumbu region of Nepal. The south face is one of the steepest in the world, rising 3km in just 2.3km. Fred From became the first Australian to climb over 8,000 metres in 1982 while Michael Groom reached the top in 1995.
5. Makalu, Elevation: 8,485m
Makalu rises some 8,485 metres above sea level in the Himalayas south-east of Mt Everest, on the border between Nepal and China. In 1995, David Hume and Mark Auricht climbed it, as did Michael Groom, Lincoln Hall, Matt Rolfe, Paul Adams and Darren Manson in 1999.
Michael Groom summited Everest in 1993 and 1996 (left), Rick White's image of Doug Scott during their 1981 ascent of the East Pillar of Shivling (centre), and Duncan Chessell capturing climbers advancing towards Camp 2 Ama Dablam in 1998 (right). (Images from left to right, courtesy of Michael Groom, Rick White and Duncan Chessell)
6. Cho Oyu, Elevation: 8,201m
Michael Groom completed the first Australian ascent of Cho Oyu in 1990. Sue Fear climbed to the 8,201-metre summit in 1998, as did Duncan Chessell in 2000 and 2003.
Michael Groom standing atop Cho Oyu in 1990 - Groom became arguably Australia's premier mountaineer in 1995 when he became the first Australian to summit the four highest mountains in the world. (Image courtesy of Michael Groom)
Other notable expeditions that Mountain Designs has supported include:
- Mountain Designs founder Rick White and Rob Staszewski's summit attempt of Mt Fitzroy in Patagonia; the peak was not achieved but the expedition served as the inspiration for White to set-up an outdoor apparel and equipment retail business, today's Mountain Designs.
- Ama Dablam in Nepal, where Tim Macartney-Snape, Lincoln Hall and Andy Henderson completed the 6,812-metre ascent in 1981. Duncan Chessell and Mark Auricht also made it to the top in 1998.
- The first ever ascent of the East Pillar of Shivling, in 1981, when Rick White and Greg Child on a Doug Scott-led expedition successfully reached the top of the 6,543-metre mountain.
- Greg Mortimer and Lincoln Hall to the top of Minto Peak in Antarctica in 1987, and Robert Geier climbing Mt Vinson in 2000.
- Mt Cook, where Christopher Harris became the youngest person ever to climb New Zealand's highest peak, back in 2002.
View more of the Mountain Designs records here.
Images courtesy of:
- Website https://www.alyssaazar.com.au/
- Website http://michaelgroom.com/