Fiftieth anniversary of the conquest of Everest: 

"Geneva – Everest 1952 – 2002"

On the trail of the Genevan expedition of 1952

Geneva, March 18th, 2002 - Exactly fifty years ago, for the first time in history, Raymond Lambert and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, two members of an expedition composed entirely of Genevan (Swiss) alpinists, climbed to within 200 meters/660 feet of the summit of Mount Everest without the aid of oxygen. One year later, in 1953, an English expedition led by John Hunt, with Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay once again, reached the roof of the world following the famous South Col route discovered by the team from Geneva. Upon their return, they met with world acclaim, they sent this message to the Genevan team:  "A good half of the glory goes to you."

Fifty years later

In 2002, to commemorate these pioneers and to celebrate this anniversary in a worthy manner, a team of Swiss alpinists will follow the trail blazed by the Genevans. Departing Geneva for Kathmandu on March 15, 2002, led by Himalayan specialist Stephane Schaffter from Geneva, expedition leader and co-producer of a film being shot for the occasion, the team is made up notably of Yves Lambert, son of Raymond Lambert – "the highest man in the world in 1952" - and Jean-Jacques Asper, member of the 1952 expedition. The ascent of Everest is scheduled to take place between end April and end May.

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"In My Father’s Footsteps"

The main objective of the expedition is the making of a film entitled "In My Father’s Footsteps", which will draw parallels between the 1952 and 2002 expeditions. In the film Jean-Jacques Asper will travel in time and space between past and present expeditions. Following his father’s trail, Yves Lambert will let his emotions speak for themselves. Tashi Tenzing, grandson of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, will be the film’s narrator.

The 1952 expedition

In 1951, The Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research was granted permission to explore Everest via its South Col in the spring of 1952. The expedition was entrusted to Dr E. Wyss-Dunant and included the foremost Genevan alpinists of the day : René Dittert (technical leader), Jean-Jacques Asper, René Aubert, Gabriel Chevalley, Léon Flory, Ernest Hoffstetter, Raymond Lambert and André Roch.

With astonishing tenacity these men opened the South Col route (7,900 meters/25,920 feet) by forcing their way along the famous West Col. On May 28, after bivouacking at 8,400 meters/27,560 feet, under canvas but without sleeping bags, Raymond Lambert and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay climbed in the direction of the summit. They broke a new altitude record, reaching a point above 8,600 meters/28,215 feet. As their oxygen supply was defective, it can be said that the two men reached this altitude unassisted by oxygen. Today mountaineers agree that the Genevan expedition of 1952 made a major contribution to the English victory in 1953.

Rolex : a perpetual connection with Everest

As the principal sponsor of the "Geneva – Everest 1952 – 2002"  expedition, Rolex is perpetuating its time-honoured connection with the highest mountain in the world. The Geneva company has sponsored a number of historic Himalayan expeditions : from the 1933 expedition to the first women’s ascent to the world’s highest summit by Junko Tabei ; Reinhold Messner, the first person to climb to 8000 metres/26,250 feet fourteen times and the victorious ascent of Everest in 1953. Not to mention Erling Kagge, Stephen Venables and Robert Anderson. One way or another, Rolex has always been present.

The members of the 1952 Genevan expedition were equipped with Rolex Oyster Perpetual chronometers. In the same tradition, Rolex will be outfitting the Swiss expedition of 2002. Continuity over time and across generations means the world to Rolex. 

The team comprises :

- Stéphane Schaffter (born February 2, 1953), organiser, team leader and high-altitude cameraman

- Yves Lambert (born January 5, 1961), son of Raymond Lambert

- Jean-Jacques Asper (born September 7, 1926), member of the 1952 expedition

- Tashi Tenzing (born November 30, 1965), grandson of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and film narrator

- Apa Sherpa (born January 20, 1957), 11 times on top of Everest 

- Jean Troillet (born March 10, 1948), Swiss Himalaya climber

- Philippe Arvis (born June 15, 1962), physician

- Guillaume Vallot (born June 10, 1970), photographer and mountain climber

Update 3/26/2002: The Team has arrived in Nepal and is heading up the mountain 

Our previous report on this wonderful expedition