Friday, 16 October 2009

Cho Oyu and women mountaineers

Browsing through the programme for the Kendal Mountain Festival 2009, I came across details for Cho Oyu, a film and lecture about the 1959 all female expedition to the world's sixth highest peak. Organised by French climber, Claude Kogan, and with a team that included members of the British Ladies Alpine Club, the Pinnacle Club, and three Nepali women, this was the first ever women's attempt on an 8000m Himalayan peak.

Unfortunately the expedition ended in tragedy with the loss of four climbers and Sherpa – probably due to storm and avalanche at or above Camp 4.

A Fatal Obsession tells the tale of this groundbreaking climb including the really useful fact the Kogan was also a beachwear designer. Written by Stephen Harper, a Daily Express journalist, who reported on the expedition, he had to travel one step behind the women and (male) Sherpas.

The following leading article, which is included in the Guardian Book of Mountains, appeared on November 18 1959. It's also available from the Guardian and Observer Digital Archive.

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