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The 40th reunion of the 1962 Sayre expedition to the North Face of Mt. Everest was celebrated September 16, 2001 at the Tisbury Senior Center, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Over 100 friends, relatives, and well wishes viewed slides and watched the expedition movie. The four climbers signed commemorative T-shirts and autographed personal copies of the expedition book, Four Against Everest (used copies available through Amazon.com).

    The expedition consisted of Woodrow Wilson Sayre, now 82, a retired philosophy professor and the grandson of president Woodrow Wilson; Norman Hansen, 78, a Boston lawyer, Hans Peter Duttle, 63, a Swiss school teacher and climbing instructor; and Roger Hart, 61, a geologist from Seal Rock, Oregon.

   Back row, Roger Hart, Norman Hansen, Hans Peter Duttle
Front row, Woodrow Wilson Sayre

    Financed privately by Sayre for $12,411.59, the expedition followed a 20 mile route pioneered by New Zealanders, Sir Edmund Hillary and George Lowe. The four climbers without porters or bottled oxygen ascended the Ngo-Jumbo icefall to the Nup La at 19, 400 feet, relayed 120 pounds of supplies each down the West Rongbuk Glacier, and ascended the East Rongbuk Glacier on the north side of Mt. Everest. They reached the north col at 23,000 feet on May 29, 1962, and, after an accident and a night's bivouac in the open, Sayre attained an approximate altitude of 25,500 feet on the north face before more accidents another open bivouac, and the threat of bad weather turned them back toward base camp in Nepal. Less than ten climbers, all who had help from porters and bottled oxygen, had summited Everest prior to the Sayre expedition which was the thirteenth expedition overall to approach the mountain. Miraculously they all returned home to their careers and, perhaps even more miraculously, are all still active in them.

    Considered a maverick expedition by some climbers especially those associated with the American expedition the following year, an article in Life magazine( March 13, 1963) and the book Four Against Everest where popular with the general public and inspired many non climbers to take up the sport.

    At the reunion, Randy McNeely, a member of the American Alpine Club, noted that many Everest historians attribute the safe return of the Sayre expedition to incredible luck with the weather but pointed out that apparently some people, i.e. the members of the Sayre expedition, create their own luck.

    Commemorative unsigned T-shirts illustrated with a picture of the climbers from Four Against Everest (see photos below) are available by contacting everestnews2004@adelphia.net

Roger Hart

Woody Sayre, good luck and good climbing!


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