This windsuit was worn by Geoff Bartram, a member of the 1984 Australian Mt Everest Expedition. The climbers approached the mountain through China and Tibet and were the first to try the North Face 'Great Couloir' route.
They climbed lightweight style, without the back-up of a large team or supplementary oxygen. Two Australian climbers, Tim Macartney-Snape and Greg Mortimer, reached the summit on 3 October 1984.
First Australians to reach Everest’s summit
The Australian Mount Everest Expedition team made headlines around the world. They were the first Australians to reach Everest's summit, and by a new route.
Everest historian Walt Unsworth called the feat 'one of the greatest climbs ever done on the mountain'. Geoff Bartram, Lincoln Hall and Andy Henderson did not reach the summit at 8848 metres, though they all climbed to various heights on the mountain.
The windsuit was worn over Bartram's other clothing to help break the wind. He climbed to 7400m elevation before illness caused him to descend.
After he recovered, Bartram was able to help expedition members off the mountain after the successful ascent by Macartney-Snape and Mortimer. All the climbers survived the expedition.
On the 25th anniversary of the expedition in 2009, Bartram told ABC TV's Stateline program that he was disappointed not to make the summit:
I mean, any time you go to a mountain and don't climb to the top, I guess there's a regret. But, I mean, I knew that at the time that I turned around there was no other choice. Firstly, I couldn't have gone on, it was too debilitating. But had I gone on, I wouldn't have been talking to you now. I would've certainly died. Had I gone on, I would have made everyone else come down and rescue me off the face. So for me, personally, there are disappointments I suppose rather than regrets.
Lincoln Hall’s mittens
The Museum’s collection also includes a pair of yellow mittens that belonged to Lincoln Hall. During an expedition to Mount Everest in 2006, Hall reached the summit but collapsed during the descent, suffering altitude sickness. As darkness fell, he was left for dead.
The following morning, another expedition was startled to find Hall sitting cross-legged on the knife-edged crest of the summit ridge. His first remark – ‘I imagine you are surprised to see me here’ – was a massive understatement. A group of Sherpas brought Hall down the mountain. He was exhausted and frostbitten, but alive.
Despite the fact that Australia is one of the world's flattest continents, Australians have a proud record of achievement on the highest mountains of the planet.
With the success of Andrew Lock on Shishapangma, Tibet, on 2 October 2009, Australians had climbed all 14 of the world's 8000m-plus peaks. Very few mountaineers around the world have done this.
Australians have also made many first ascents and have climbed in other mountain regions of the world. Geoff Bartram climbed extensively in the Andes as well as the Himalayas and elsewhere. But success has not been without cost. Sadly, 15 Australian climbers had died in the Himalayas from 1972 to 2009.
Australian climbers do more than climb. They and others established the Australian Himalayan Foundation in 2002. The Foundation supports local educational, health and environmental projects. In this way Australians are making a positive contribution to the well-being of the Himalayan people.
11 Oct 2009
Australians in the Himalayas
In our collection