Three Pinnacles

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Kangshung Face of Mount Everest with its northeast ridge (No. 12, right) and the Three Pinnacles (No. 8) Kangshung-06.PNG
Kangshung Face of Mount Everest with its northeast ridge (No. 12, right) and the Three Pinnacles (No. 8)
North face of Mount Everest: routes and important points North face marked.png
North face of Mount Everest: routes and important points

The Three Pinnacles are a formation of steep rocks along the northeast ridge on Mount Everest. They were one of the longest unsolved challenges in high-level mountaineering, but have now been successfully climbed.

Mount Everest Earths highest mountain, part of the Himalaya between Nepal and China

Mount Everest, known in Nepali as Sagarmatha (सगरमाथा) and in Tibetan as Chomolungma (ཇོ་མོ་གླང་མ), is Earth's highest mountain above sea level, located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas. The international border between Nepal and China runs across its summit point.

Mountaineering sport of mountain climbing

Mountaineering is the set of activities that involves ascending mountains. Mountaineering-related activities include traditional outdoor climbing, hiking, skiing, and traversing via ferratas. Indoor climbing, sport climbing and bouldering are usually considered mountaineering as well.

The rocks are located at around 7,800, 8,100 and 8,200 metres above sea level (height of base of pinnacle) and are therefore already in the death zone, in which people cannot usually recover, even at rest.

The normal routes on Everest avoid this area; the normal northern route leaves it to the left.

Normal route

A normal route or normal way is the most frequently used route for ascending and descending a mountain peak. It is usually the simplest route.

During the various attempts to conquer the pinnacles and open a new route along the entire northeast ridge, there were frequently serious problems and fatalities. In 1982 Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker died in the first serious attempt to climb in groups at grade 5 within the death zone. In 1992 a joint Japanese-Kazakh expedition crossed the Pinnacles but were unable to continue to the summit. They found a body beyond the second pinnacle at approximately 8,200m on the Rongbuk side of the ridge. Photographs taken by Vladimir Suviga and sent to Chris Bonington confirmed that the body was that of Peter Boardman. Joe Tasker's body has never been found.

Peter Boardman was a British mountaineer and author. He is best known for a series of bold and lightweight expeditions to the Himalayas, often in partnership with Joe Tasker, and for his contribution to mountain literature. Boardman and Tasker died on the North East Ridge of Mount Everest in 1982. The Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature was established in their memory.

Joe Tasker was a British climber, active during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The Rongbuk Glacier is located in the Himalaya of southern Tibet. Two large tributary glaciers, the East Rongbuk Glacier and the West Rongbuk Glacier, flow into the main Rongbuk Glacier. It flows north and forms the Rongbuk Valley north of Mount Everest. The famous Rongbuk Monastery is located at the northern end of the Rongbuk valley. Mount Everest is the source of the Rongbuk Glacier and East Rongbuk Glacier.

In 1988, Russell Brice and Harry Taylor successfully climbed the Three Pinnacles, but they were so exhausted after climbing the third pinnacle that they abandoned their original plan to continue along the normal route to the summit. Instead, they crossed the normal route along the north ridge and descended to the North Col.

Russell Reginald Brice is a New Zealand mountaineer. He is also the owner/manager of Himalayan Experience Ltd., a climbing expedition company. He has summited Cho Oyu seven times, Himal Chuli and Mount Everest twice, as well as Manaslu in October 2010, which was his 14th summit of an 8000 m peak.

Harry Taylor is a former British SAS member, mountaineer and security advisor. He founded ‘High Adventure’ with Loel Guinness, an extreme sports company specifically designed to set records in climbing, paragliding, and skydiving. His team set a world distance flight record for a paraglider at 150.6km in Namibia. In 1991, with close friend Charles "Nish" Bruce he made a tandem skydive with oxygen from 27,000 feet over Badajoz in Spain. Taylor did a tandem paraglider flight from Cho Oyu 8,201m Tibet and was also the 1st British paraglider pilot to fly from Denali, Alaska.

North Col

The North Col refers to the sharp-edged pass carved by glaciers in the ridge connecting Mount Everest and Changtse in Tibet. It forms the head of the East Rongbuk Glacier.

Not until 1995 did a team from a Japanese university, supported by a group of about 35 Sherpa porters, climb the entire northeast ridge route, including the Three Pinnacles in both directions. In order to facilitate the expedition, the Sherpas had covered virtually the entire route with fixed ropes. Only after the ropes were in place did a group of Japanese go to the top.

Fixed rope

In mountaineering, a fixed rope or fixed line is the practice of fixing in place bolted ropes to assist climbers and walkers in exposed mountain locations. They are used widely on American and European climbing routes, where they may be called via ferrata routes, but are not used in "Alpine style" mountaineering. Many guided expeditions to any of the eight-thousanders normally set up fixed rope on steep or icy sections of the route. For example, on the Hillary Step of Mount Everest, fixed rope was used to reduce the bottleneck of climbers that typically results from climbing this technical section just below the summit.

Even today this part of the vast mountain is almost always avoided, too great are its difficulties that range from the Pinnacles themselves to the weather, the extreme cold, the winds and the altitude as well as the arduous terrain.

Almost all the mountaineering challenges on Mount Everest have now been overcome, but there remain two routes with extraordinary difficulties: a direttissima climb up the avalanche-prone East Face – the only yet unclimbed direct route on Everest, and ascent of the north pillar on the East Face over the (according to George Mallory) so-called "Fantasy Ridge". This ridge ends at the centre of the northeast ridge – below the Three Pinnacles. A climber wishing to climb up the Fantasy Ridge on his way to the summit would have to negotiate the east ridge and then climb the Three Pinnacles on the northeast ridge.

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