In 1989, Paul Rose tried to climb the north-east ridge of Everest. The route, on the Tibetan side of the mountain, had always thwarted British mountaineers. In 1924, George Mallory disappeared there; his body would not be found for 75 years. And as Rose prepared for his attempt, climbers were still mourning the loss of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker on the ridge in 1982. Reaching the summit would be part triumph, part tribute.
It would not be easy. Delays in reaching Everest had tipped the expedition beyond the monsoon season. The team were stunned by the depths of new snow they found at high altitude. “We weren’t so much climbing as cutting a groove through it,” Rose recalls. “One night we put up the tent and stashed some oxygen. I shoved a cylinder into the snow and it just disappeared.”