Equipment

The Changabang expedition of 1976 by Joe Tasker and Pete Boardman – how much equipment do you need for 2 men to climb one of the highest mountains in the world?

One of the unique aspects of the Changabang expedition was the application of Alpine-style techniques to a Himalayan peak with only two members, no oxygen and the associated lack of the requirements of the “siege” tactics with large teams of people ferrying supplies up the mountain and establishing many camps. This caused some concern amongst the Indian authorities and Joe had to use some contacts in order to get permission. Despite being determined to have a low cost expedition, using a lot of their own gear instead of obtaining sponsors, Joe and Pete still needed 15 porters to carry 97kg of equipment, 80kg of food and fuel brought from the UK (only the things they couldn’t get in India), more than 1700 feet of rope and significant quantities of food bought in India. (Note – this is still very low key compared with the 5 tonnes of equipment and supplies for the eight member expedition to K2 in 1978 at a cost of £50,000; rather than £2,000 for Joe and Pete’s ascent of Changabang).

One of the innovative pieces of equipment developed for this expedition were adapted hammocks, specially insulated for use at high altitudes on the steep slopes of the West Face of Changabang where there were expected to be no ledges. Joe and Pete trialled these in the cold stores where Joe was working at the time! However, in practice, they were not wholly successful being very constrictive and requiring outside preparation of food and liquid.