Bishop follows in father’s footsteps to Ama Dablam
Brent Bishop and Wally Berg are leading an expedition to Ama Dablam, paying homage to the stunning Himalayan peak’s first ascent by Bishop’s father.
It’s been 41 years since Barry Bishop and three others were the first to make it to the summit of a mountain that Sir Edmund Hillary had previously called “unclimbable” and “fantastically difficult.”
This month, Bishop’s son Brent is co-guiding an expedition for Berg Adventures International that will follow the same route up the southwest ridge.
Our goal is to summit the 22,494 ft. peak in mid-November. While the mountain is not the highest in the Everest area, it is considered an extremely technical climb.
We’re inspired by the successful 1960-1961 World Book Encyclopedia Himalayan Scientific and Mountaineering Expedition, led by Hillary.
Scientists and mountaineers from five countries spent eight months exploring human’s ability to survive in an inhumane, abnormal environment.
Hillary and Marlin Perkins from Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo led an adventurous search for evidence of the Himalayan snowman or yeti. They found snow tracks, furs, scalps and even a hand that locals claimed came from the yeti. When they took the evidence to Europe and the U.S., however, the ‘scalp’ turned out to be from the back of a serow goat which had been cleverly stretched over a pointed form and the furs were determined to be from the Tibetan blue bear. An exhaustive search concluded with “serious doubt” on the existence of the yeti.
Meanwhile, other members of the expedition combined mountaineering with scientific research, based out of the Silver Hut camp located at the base of Ama Dablam at 19,000 feet. The group’s main mountaineering goal was to summit Makalu, but glaciologist Barry Bishop, and teammates Mike Ward, Wally Romanes and Michael Gill decided to give Ama Dablam a shot.
They spent three weeks searching for a route, with the assistance of Sherpas Gumen Dorje and Pemba Tensing, and used 1,500 feet of fixed line before making the push for the summit.
On March 31, 1961, Barry Bishop wrote, “We have accomplished the unheard-of feat of climbing a high and difficult Himalaya peak in winter.”
Brent Bishop has given Berg Adventures access to his father’s collection of photographs from the first expedition. They offer a unique view of early Himalayan mountaineering, and we are proud to present some of those images here: