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Wilson Maurice Wilson, dubbed "the mad Yorkshireman," stands with his Gipsy Moth, the Ever-Wrest.
Outsmarting the Weather
by Liesl Clark
May 13, 1999

Maurice Wilson has always been described as an eccentric, but what he set out to accomplish back in 1934 was remarkable—the first solo attempt on Mount Everest. Wilson bought a second-hand Gipsy Moth airplane, took his first and only course of flying lessons, and promptly set off for India. This alone was quite a feat, but he had his sights set on Everest. "When I have accomplished my little work, I shall be somebody. People will listen to me," Wilson declared. Jochen Hemmleb explains the irony in this: "As it turns out, Maurice Wilson is remembered for his Everest attempt because his aviation accomplishments were much more memorable, flying illegally from England to India."

For years, Wilson's remains have been seen and photographed just below Advance Base Camp. He died alone at 22,000 feet and was discovered a year later by a British Reconnaissance Expedition. They wrapped him in his tent and placed him in a crevasse. That night, the members of the British team read Wilson's diary aloud to each other and were moved by his accounts: "We cannot fail to admire his courage."

Today, Jochen Hemmleb and expedition doctor Lee Meyers, found Wilson's remains on the glacier just below Advance Base Camp. "Occasionally, you find pieces of cloth in the glacier that look like they could have come from the 1930s," explained Hemmleb. "The first piece we found was a half femur bone about eight inches long. Not far from it I found one vertebra. Then about 600-900 feet down from that was a piece of forearm, the ulnar bone." The glacier, in its movement, has broken up Wilson's bones and clothing, spreading him out further and further each year. "Even in death he shows his determination, refusing to be buried," said Hemmleb wistfully.

"It's a beautiful morning. We're a couple minutes from walking," reported Dave Hahn on the radio this morning. The climbers are moving up from Camp IV on the North Col to Camp V at 25,500 feet. Our team of Sherpas, a total of eight, will move up to the Col today and then go straight up to Camp VI to join the climbers tomorrow if the weather holds out.

Outsmarting the weather is a difficult game up here, as the jet stream fluctuates back and forth, to the north and south of Everest at this time of year. As the monsoon pushes from the south, the jet stream moves north, providing climbers on Everest with a brief interlude before the monsoon snows set in. Currently, the jet is split to the north and south, with Everest somewhere in between the two threads. This means that the jet is not blowing directly on the summit of Everest. If the conditions hold out, then the climbers could be on top as early as the 15th. Just this morning, 14 people from the south side, nine Sherpas and five climbers, were standing on the summit. They called down to our Sherpas by radio.

Tonight the mists and snow have enveloped the mountain and a light snow is falling on our tents. From Advance Base Camp we have no view of Everest, just whiteout. And at Camp V, the team will wait out the storm until expedition leader Eric Simonson receives word by e-mail on the weather.

Unanswered Questions (May 25, 1999)
Forty-Eight Yaks (May 21, 1999)
On Top of the World (May 17, 1999)
Summit Team Moves Higher (May 16, 1999)
Still at Camp V (May 15, 1999)
Snow Bound (May 14, 1999)
Outsmarting the Weather (May 13, 1999)
Last Trip Up (May 12, 1999)
Up to ABC/The Rescue (May 11, 1999)
The Image of Mallory (May 8, 1999)
In Extremis (May 7, 1999)
Pieces of the Puzzle (May 6, 1999)
Dearest George (May 5, 1999)
Mallory's Discoverers Return (May 4, 1999)
Mallory Reported Found (May 3, 1999)
Waiting in Silence (May 1, 1999)
Up to the Search Site (April 30, 1999)
To the North Col (April 29, 1999)
Waiting out the Wind (April 28, 1999)
Search About to Begin (April 25, 1999)
Pitching a 1933 Tent (April 23, 1999)
Early Camp Found at 21,750 Feet on Everest (April 20, 1999)
Up to Base Camp (April 23, 1999)

Photo: Salkeld Collection.
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