A post on National Geographic by Stephen Regenold caught my eye comparing the high mountaineering gear used by Hillary and Norgay for their successful Everest climb in 1953 and the gear used today.
The author compares the duo’s kit garments, tent, climbing hardwear, sleeping bags, food, communication tools and lots more with the kit that is used today by Everest climbers.
A couple of examples:
1953: A thin, windproof, military-derivative “cotton wrap, nylon weft” suit was Hillary’s defense against Everest’s fierce gales.
2012: Gore Windstopper shell fabric, airy 800-fill goose down, an internal down collar, an articulating “snorkel hood,” and a dozen other features make The North Face’s Himalayan Suit (above) a common outfit on the world’s tallest peaks. The suit provides warmth and protection, though it’s designed for active climbing with cuts that do not inhibit movement going up past the clouds.
1953: Hillary and crew had high-mountain tents with piano-wire stiffeners on the doors and detachable “nylon inners” for extra warmth. At the time, many tents were made of a canvas-like material with a nylon inner tent.
2012: The North Face calls its VE 25 tent (above) a “three-person yurt for lodging in severe conditions.” A stout rip-stop canopy, Kevlar guylines, and a polyurethane port window cold-crack tested to minus 60°F are among the features that help it stand up to Himalayan winds.
It is a fascinating and easy read. The article really illustrates how much or little the gear has changed. The original photo’s are stunning.
Read more on: Everest Climbing Gear—Then and Now
If you are interested in the history of mountaineering gear you will find the work of Mary Rose and Mike Parsons of great interest in the Gear Time Zone.
We talked about their work Outdoor Gear Evolution Recorded Forever on Rohantime last year.