At the age of 86, the last surviving British climbing member of the 1953 Everest expedition, Mike Westmacott, has passed away at his home in Cumbria, Britain on the 22 of June.
While on an early trip up the Matterhorn, Westmacott’s partner told him about a position available with Edmund Hillary’s upcoming Everest expedition. Intrigued by the enormity of climbing the world’s tallest peak, Westmacott applied for the opening on the team. Although Mike was an experienced alpinist, the Everest expedition would represent his first trip to the Himalaya.
After establishing base camp, Westmacott and three other team members helped clear a safe passage for Hillary and Norgay through the Khumbu Icefall. This represented a pioneering achievement in Himalayan Mountaineering, and a feat that continues to challenge Everest ascensionists well into the 21st century.
During the seminal expedition, Westmacott made camp five before turning around near camp six because of altitude sickness.
One of his more significant contributions to the sport of mountaineering was the inception of the Himalayan Index, a record of all significant Asian ascents over 6000m.
Born in 1925, Westmacott studied Mathematics at Oxford and was the president of the mountaineering club there. Westmacott leaves behind his wife, Sally, and family.