The spring climbing season is about to get underway in the Himalaya where teams of mountaineers are already descending on Kathmandu in preparation for their expeditions to come. Amongst them is veteran British climber Kenton Cool who is not only seeking his tenth successful summit of the world’s tallest peak, but is also looking to fulfill an 88-year-old Olympic pledge before the games return to London this summer.
Back in 1922, the Himalaya mostly remained a blank spot on the map. Those wild and rugged mountains seemed nearly impassable at the time and explorers spent years mapping their jagged peaks and high passes. One of those explorers was Lt. Colonel Edward Strutt who led one of the first expeditions that attempted to climb Everest. His team actually reached a height of 27,000 feet, which was well below the 29,029-foot summit but still managed to set a new altitude record at the time.
News of that record spread around the globe and gave hope to many that Everest would soon be conquered for King and Country. It wasn’t of course. It would be another 31 years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay would become the first men to stand on the summit, but Strutt became quite the celebrated figure. So much so that in 1924, at the Olympic Games in Paris, he and his team were awarded gold medals for their accomplishments on Everest. When he received his medal from Baron Pierre du Coubertin, the Lt. Colonel promised he would carry it with him when he eventually went to the top of the mountain. Later that same year, George Mallory and Sandy Irvine would go missing on their famous Everest expedition and it would be another nine years before another team of Brits attempted the climb again. As a result, Edward Strutt never got the opportunity to take his Olympic gold to the highest point on the planet.
Now, nearly nine decades later, Cool wants to fulfill Strutt’s pledge at last. Today Kenton begins his trek to Everest Base Camp on the south side of the mountain. That trek will take upwards of ten days to complete and once there he’ll begin the long and grueling process of climbing a mountain that he already knows very well. Depending on weather conditions, it could take Cool about six weeks to deliver the gold medal to the summit.
You can follow Kenton’s progress on the expedition’s Facebook page by clicking here and hitting the “Like” button. We’re likely to get daily updates from the trek and climb as well as some stunning photos and videos from the breathtaking Khumbu Valley.