Entity Type:
Harrison, Ginette (1958-1999)
Harrison, Ginette (1958-1999)
By the late 1990s Harrison was easily the best British female high altitude mountaineer around, although she was virtually unknown outside of climbing circles. However, building a media profile was not the first priority of Harrison; she was more concerned with consolidating a committed mountaineering career. Harrison began rock climbing at the age of 15 and took her hobby with her to medical school at Bristol where she became a well-known figure in the local scene. Graduating to big mountains, she climbed Denali (Mt McKinlay) when she was 25 and reached 7000m on the remote Bhutan peak of Gankar Punsum – which still retains the cachet of being the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. In 1989, Harrison led an otherwise all male expedition to Masherbrum, and continued visiting Nepal, making lower-key mountaineering trips. She attempted Everest in 1993 and met her future husband Gary Pfisterer when they summitted together. Her commitment to climbing as a means in itself, rather than a career is indicated by her choice of technically demanding routes to the tops of the ‘7 summits’ whenever possible. Thus Harrison completed Kilimanjaro via the tricky Heim Glacier and Diamond Couloir. However, much greater challenges lay ahead. Harrison and Pfisterer traversed the formidable Mount Logan in a continous alpine-style push for 28 days, and proved Harrison’s remarkable stamina and fortitude. These qualities were re-emphasised in 1997 when she climbed Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam in quick succession. Harrison’s crowning glory however, was in 1998 when she was the only member of an expedition to reach the summit of Kangchenjunga via the technical and dangerous Japanese Route, the others having turned back. The fact that she achieved this success without using supplementary oxygen makes it all the more impressive. It was only after this outstanding performance that Harrison began to emerge from the shadows of relative obscurity and things looked set fair following successful ascents of Shishapangma and Makalu. However, like so many before her, the pursuit of the 8000ers ended in tragedy in 1999 when an avalanche claimed Harrison’s life on the slopes of Dhaulagiri.

Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
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Harrison, Ginette (1958-1999)