A gruelling climb in the cruellest of conditions.
Climbing Everest in winter was attempted for the first time in 1979/80 by a Polish expedition. They succeeded by the original route and stated it would not have been possible without supplementary oxygen. For climbers like Joe who needed to push boundaries the obvious next challenge was in winter, by its most difficult route, with no oxygen.
“Because it is hard and it is uncertain” (Joe Tasker in Everest the Cruel Way)
Joe was invited by Brian Hall and Alan Rouse to join the expedition along with Adrian and Alan Burgess (the Burgess twins), Paul Nunn, Pete Thexton and John Porter.
Having had the expedition permission brought forward by a year it was a hectic one for Joe. In a period of economic decline it was a struggle to raise the £15,000 needed, even though that was a minute amount compared to “normal” Everest expeditions.
The Everest climb was beset by very high winds and heavy snowfall, illness and communication issues. Climbing hours were short and the tents struggled to give the necessary protection. After two months on the mountain the attempt was abandoned and all eight returned safely.
However, they had been accompanied by a camera team, which was rare. They obtained remarkable footage of difficult high altitude Himalayan climbing, while supplementary filming by team members took the cameras to 23,200 ft. An edited film was shown on ITV in December 1981.