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EverestHistory.com: Peter Boardman


Peter Boardman, born on Christmas day 1950, learned to climb in Corsica in the mid 1960's. By his late teens he was a member of the Mynydd Climbing Club in Stockport, England and was rambling over the craggy Welsh mountains. He was learning, and quickly became a strong and skilled rock climber, visiting the Swabbian Alps in 1966 and then the Pennine Alps to climb two years later. He would go on to make the first British ascents the North Face Direct of the Olan, the North Face of the Nesthorn and the North Face Direct of the Lauterbrunnen Breithorn.

Although much of his focus was directed at climbing it did not limit his aspirations or the variety of his life experiences. Following his youth at Stockport Grammar School and climbing the local hills, Boardman went on to the University of Nottingham where he was President of the climbing society. By 1973 he had learned Welsh, received a degree in English and a teaching diploma at the University of North Wales, Bangor. He took on a variety of posts in various mountaineering organizations. He joined the British Mountaineering Council in 1975, was elected President of the Association of British Mountain Guides in 1979, facilitated the entry of British Guides into the Union Internationale des Associations de Guides de Montagne in January 1978, and following the death of Dougal Haston, he took over the International School of Mountaineering in Leysin.

Boardman began a series of successful expeditions during these year, first the University of Nottingham Hindu Kush Expedition, in 1972 and then the first ascent of the South Face of Mount Dan Beard in Alaska in 1974. In 1975 he set his sights on Everest and joined an expedition to the South West Face, led by Chris Bonington, in July. Based on his strength and skill, though he was the youngest of the climbers, Boardman was chosen for the second ascent and summited Everest on September 16, 1975.

In an ominous portent following their summit, Boardman and his partner Sherpa Pertemba met Mick Burke on his way to the summit. With weather conditions worsening Boardman and Burke exchanged a few words and agreed to meet later at the South Summit. Despite the poor visibility and deteriorating conditions Boardman and Pertemba waited for Burke an hour and a half below the South Summit enduring harsh weather and two avalanches while returning to camp. Mick Burke was never seen again.

Boardman made many ascents following Everest. He climbed Changabang, with Joe Tasker, in 1978. Later that year he would take part in a tragic K2 Expedition where Nick Estcourt died in an avalanche. In 1979 he climbed Kangchenjunga and Gaurisankar in Nepal. He returned to K2 in 1980, reaching nearly 8,000 meters before poor weather and exhaustion prevented a summit. In 1981 there was Mount Kongur.

During this active climbing period he published his first book "The Shining Mountain" which won the John Llewelyn Rhys Memorial Prize for literature in 1979. "Sacred Summits", published posthumously, described Boardman's climbing year of 1979, and his trips to New Guinea, Kangchenjunga and Gauri Sankar.

In March of 1982 Boardman and Joe Tasker disappeared while climbing the North East Ridge of Everest.




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