Thomas Duncan Bourdillon ( // bor-DIL-ən; 16 March 1924 – 29 July 1956) was an English mountaineer and member of the 1953 British Mount Everest Expedition which made the first ascent of Mount Everest. He died in Valais, Switzerland, on 29 July 1956 aged 32.
Born in Kensington, London, Bourdillon was the elder son of Robert Benedict Bourdillon (1889–1971), a scientist who in 1909 had been a founding member of the Oxford University Mountaineering Club and of his wife, Harriet Ada Barnes. He was a grandson of the poet Francis William Bourdillon, nephew of Francis Bernard Bourdillon, and cousin of John Francis Bourdillon.
Bourdillon was educated at Gresham's School, Holt, and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Physics and was president of the Oxford University Mountaineering Club.
Bourdillon made a career as a physicist in rocket research.
Active as a climber while still a schoolboy, Bourdillon developed his climbing during his years at the University of Oxford. By his mid-twenties he was an inspiring figure in the renaissance of British climbing in the Alps, and he then moved on to the challenge of the Greater Ranges and Mount Everest.
Bourdillon had been with Eric Shipton on the 1951 reconnaissance of Everest and on Cho Oyu in 1952. He was in charge of the oxygen equipment on the 1952 and 1953 expeditions, and recommended closed-circuit equipment.
With his father, Robert Bourdillon, he developed the closed-circuit bottled oxygen apparatus used by Charles Evans and himself on their climb to the South Summit of Everest on 26 May 1953. Bourdillon could have been either the first or second man to officially summit Everest, but he was forced back when Evans's oxygen system failed. The pair came within 300 feet (91 m) of the Main Summit; both turning back after reaching the South Summit. Three days later, Hunt directed Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to go for the Main Summit, using open-circuit equipment; which they reached on 29 May 1953. Bourdillon never attempted an Everest expedition again.
Bourdillon died with another climber, Richard Viney, in a climbing accident on 29 July 1956, while ascending the east buttress of the Jägihorn in the Bernese Oberland.
On 15 March 1951, Bourdillon married Jennifer Elizabeth Clapham Thomas (born 1929), a daughter of Ronald Clapham Thomas, at Hendon.They lived near Aylesbury and had one daughter, Nicola, born in 1954, and one son, Simon, who was only ten weeks old when his father died.
In July 2018, Bourdillon's widow opened a new outdoor activity centre at Gresham's School, with an assault course, a zip wire, abseiling, and a climbing tower.
Bourdillon appears as himself in the film The Conquest of Everest (1953)and in archive footage in The Race for Everest (2003).
Raymond Lambert was a Swiss mountaineer who together with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached an altitude of 8611 metres of Mount Everest, as part of a Swiss Expedition in May 1952. At the time it was the highest point that a climber had ever reached. There was a second Swiss expedition in autumn 1952, but a party including Lambert and Tenzing was forced to turn back at a slightly lower point. The following year Tenzing returned with Edmund Hillary to reach the summit on 29 May 1953.
Cho Oyu is the sixth-highest mountain in the world at 8,188 metres (26,864 ft) above sea level. Cho Oyu means "Turquoise Goddess" in Tibetan. The mountain is the westernmost major peak of the Khumbu sub-section of the Mahalangur Himalaya 20 km west of Mount Everest. The mountain stands on the China Tibet–Nepal Province No. 1 border.
The Oxford University Mountaineering Club (OUMC) was founded in 1909 by Arnold Lunn, then a Balliol undergraduate; he did not earn a degree.
Eric Earle Shipton, CBE, was an English Himalayan mountaineer.
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at 8,849 metres (29,031.7 ft) above sea level. It is situated in the Himalayan range of Solukhumbu district, Nepal.
Sir Robert Charles Evans was a British mountaineer, surgeon, and educator. He was leader of the 1955 British Kangchenjunga expedition and deputy leader of the 1953 British Mount Everest expedition, both of which were successful.
The Mount Everest Committee was a body formed by the Alpine Club and the Royal Geographical Society to co-ordinate and finance the 1921 British Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition to Mount Everest and all subsequent British expeditions to climb the mountain until 1947. It was then renamed the Joint Himalayan Committee; this latter committee organised and financed the successful first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.
Led by Edouard Wyss-Dunant, the 1952 Swiss Mount Everest expedition saw Raymond Lambert and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reach a height of about 8,595 metres (28,199 ft) on the southeast ridge, setting a new climbing altitude record, opening up a new route to Mount Everest and paving the way for further successes by other expeditions.
Bottled oxygen is oxygen in small, portable, high-pressure storage cylinders, as used for high-altitude climbing. Bottled oxygen may also be for a breathing gas, especially for scuba diving or during surgery.
The 1953 British Mount Everest expedition was the ninth mountaineering expedition to attempt the first ascent of Mount Everest, and the first confirmed to have succeeded when Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reached the summit on 29 May 1953. Led by Colonel John Hunt, it was organised and financed by the Joint Himalayan Committee. News of the expedition's success reached London in time to be released on the morning of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, on 2 June that year.
Precipitated by unexpected permission from Tibet, the 1935 British Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition was planned at short notice as a preliminary to an attempt on the summit of Mount Everest in 1936. After exceptionally rancorous arguments involving the Mount Everest Committee in London, Eric Shipton was appointed leader following his successful trekking style of expedition to the Nanda Devi region in India in 1934.
The 1936 British Mount Everest expedition was a complete failure, and raised questions concerning the planning of such expeditions. This was Hugh Ruttledge's second expedition as leader. Heavy snows and an early monsoon forced their retreat on several occasions, and on the final attempt two climbers narrowly survived an avalanche. This was the first expedition in which climbers were able to carry portable radios.
Led by Bill Tilman, the 1938 British Mount Everest expedition was a low-key, low-cost expedition which was unlucky in encountering a very early monsoon. The weather conditions defeated the attempts to reach the summit. The North Col was climbed for the first time from the west and an altitude of 27,200 feet (8,300 m) was reached on the North Ridge.
Lewis Griffith Cresswell Evans Pugh, generally known as Griffith Pugh, was a British physiologist and mountaineer. He was the expedition physiologist on the 1953 British expedition that made the first ascent of Mount Everest, and a researcher into the effects of cold and altitude on human physiology.
The South Summit is a subsidiary peak to the primary peak of Mount Everest in the Himalayas. Although the South Summit's elevation above sea level of 8,749 metres (28,704 ft) is higher than the second-highest mountain on Earth, K2, it is not considered a separate mountain as its prominence is only 11 meters. The primary peak of Mount Everest is 8,849 metres (29,032 ft) elevation above sea level.
After World War II, with Tibet closing its borders and Nepal becoming considerably more open, Mount Everest reconnaissance from Nepal became possible for the first time culminating in the successful ascent of 1953. In 1950 there was a highly informal trek to what was to become Everest Base Camp and photographs were taken of a possible route ahead. Next year the 1951 British Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition reconnoitred various possible routes to Mount Everest from the south and the only one they considered feasible was the one via the Khumbu Icefall, Western Cwm and South Col. In 1952, while the Swiss were making an attempt on the summit that nearly succeeded; the 1952 British Cho Oyu expedition practised high-altitude Himalayan techniques on Cho Oyu, nearby to the west.
The 1951 British Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition ran between 27 August 1951 and 21 November 1951 with Eric Shipton as leader.
The 1952 British expedition to Cho Oyu the Turquoise Goddess was organized by the Joint Himalayan Committee. It had been hoped to follow up the 1951 Everest expedition with another British attempt on Everest in 1952, but Nepal had accepted a Swiss application for 1952, to be followed in 1953 with a British attempt. So in 1952, Eric Shipton was to lead an attempt to ascend Cho Oyu, and Griffith Pugh was to trial oxygen equipment and train members for 1953. But the expedition failed both aims; that plus Shipton’s poor leadership and planning resulted in his replacement as a leader for the 1953 expedition.