New video of 1938 high camp and views from the Northeast Shoulder of Everest

Nearly a year ago, I posted a video showing my May 20, 2004, discovery of the 1938 high camp on the Northeast Shoulder of Everest (see the post here). It was an exciting day – my friend, Dave Hahn, was en route to his 5th summit of Everest (he now has 10!) with our amazing Sherpas, Danuru and Tashi.

I had the option of going for the top again, but, having been there twice already, and being far more interested in the history of Everest and the artifacts I knew were still strewn about the upper North Face, I decided to forego another summit attempt and instead do some high-altitude exploring.

On previous expeditions in 1999 and 2001, I had been able to discover and unearth the 1924 and 1933 high camps. The remaining one that I hadn't visited, however, was from the 1938 expedition, a camp perched in one of the most inhospitable, wind-blown areas of the North Face – atop the North Ridge, just below the Pinnacles and the Yellow Band, on the crest of the Northeast Shoulder.

It took some looking and scouring – especially, as you'll see in the video, since it was a nasty day with high winds, snow, and poor visibility – but eventually the effort paid off. At the fringe of the Northeast Shoulder, just before the grand drop down the Rongbuk Face some 6000 feet to Advanced Basecamp, I saw a bit of wood sticking out of the rubble.

Wood had surprised me before, and led to neat discoveries, like in 1999 with the 1933 high camp, and in 2001 when the wooden tent pole of the 1924 high camp signaled to me that Brent Okita and I had found Mallory & Irvine's final camp. This time, however, I knew the wind was playing tricks on me. No matter how tough (and possibly crazy!) the climbers were in 1938, perching their pup tent on the Shoulder, I knew they would not have placed it where I found the bit of wood, which turned out to be a 2-section tent pole that now sits in my office. It was far too rugged, jagged, and not a flat place to be found.

No, the wind – the ferocious, jetstream wind of the upper reaches of Everest – had carried the pole away from its tent. Nonetheless, it was a clue, and i knew all I had to do was walk back, into the wind, and I'd be led by the prevailing wind direction to the rough site of the camp.

Another 45 minutes of searching, scouring, and being battered by the wind finally led me to the remains – small, sad, and beaten – of the 1938 High Camp.

The video posted last year was pretty poor in quality, and my voice barely audible. So, I took the time this week to edit a new cut of the same, this time adding in some more footage showing the view up to the Pinnacles – where Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker disappeared in 1982 – and the view up into the Yellow Band from the Shoulder along the route most likely taken by George Mallory & Andrew Irvine on their final, fateful summit bid on June 8, 1924.

It's a fun video – enjoy! The YouTube version is posted below, but feel free to check out the same video on DailyMotion, perhaps in a bit better quality.

Jake Norton is an Everest climber, guide, photographer, writer, and motivational speaker from Colorado.

  1. phil summers
    phil summersJune 2,08

    Good show Jake.

    I also note a number of points and questions.

    I tend to agree with you that M&I would venture up to the NE arete
    as vertically as they could and thus they may well have passed close to the later 1938 Camp VI.
    An impediment to that supposition is the distinct S-bend that the terrain forces from 1924 Camp VI. In that one must head west out of camp somewhat and then veer uphill toward the general 1938 camp VI in order to reach the arete’.
    I suspect M&I would like to reach the morning sun sooner rather than loiter in the morning shadow of the YB- in the cold!.
    Seeing your movements up there
    could you describe the overall incline in the vicinity and from
    1924 Camp VI up to 1938 Camp VI please?.

    I note the distinct colour of the rocks in the area too, quite a ochre hue it seems, also the wind strength was less than helpful.
    Could you describe the wind on the day, was it typical, a tad stronger etc ?.

    Finally, could you make an estimate on the time it would take climbers to get to 1938 Camp VI from 1924 Camp VI in the morning?.
    Tilman and Lloyd’s climb is of interest in this regard.

    Thanks for this annoted video Jake, it sheds light on matters of interest.

  2. DSD
    DSDJune 5,08

    “To touch the rocks of history…” A. Carlson
    What an amazing experience this must have been Jake…

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