Pete and Joe
On 17 May 1982 Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker were last seen on Mount Everest attempting to traverse The Pinnacles on the unclimbed North East Ridge at around 8250 metres. Their deaths marked the end of a remarkable era in British mountaineering.
Peter and Joe left two legacies. One was their great endeavour, their climbs on high peaks with bold, lightweight innovative methods which included Dunagiri, Changabang, Kongur, Everest and Kangchenjunga. The second and more lasting achievement were the books they wrote and left behind.
Peter Boardman, born on Christmas Day 1950, was educated at Stockport Grammar School and took a degree in English at Nottingham University. His first expedition was to Afghanistan in 1972 and in 1975 he was a member of the Everest South West Face Expedition led by Chris Bonington. As one of the strongest members of the expedition he was chosen for the second ascent, successfully reaching the summit of Everest on 26 September 1975.
After Everest his expeditions followed with frightening speed. In 1976 he visited the Polish High Tatra and later that year joined Joe Tasker on the legendary climb of Changabang. In 1978, by now firmly established as one of the most respected high altitude climbers, he took part in the K2 Expedition, which was marred by the tragic death of Nick Estcourt, and in 1979 successfully climbed Kangchenjunga with Joe Tasker, Doug Scott and Georges Bettembourg. Later that year he was to climb Gaurisankar in Nepal and in 1980 returned to K2 reaching 7975 metres but poor weather and exhaustion prevented a further summit attempt.
Mount Kongur followed in 1981 and in March 1982 in a small expedition with Chris Bonington, Joe Tasker and Dick Renshaw he attempted the North East Ridge of Everest in which he and Joe Tasker so tragically lost their lives.
Peter's talent for writing emerged through his climbing career. The success of his first book, The Shining Mountain, was immediate in the climbing world and won him wider acclaim with the John Llewelyn Rhys Memorial Prize for literature in 1979. Sacred Summits, published shortly after his death, described the climbing year of 1979, the trips to New Guinea, Kangchenjunga and Gaurisankar.
Joe Tasker was born in Hull in 1948. As the eldest son of a strong Catholic family, Joe was sent to Ushaw College, a Roman Catholic seminary, at the age of thirteen but later took a degree in sociology at Manchester University. After getting a good degree, he decided not to settle into a career but to allow himself the freedom to climb. His early mountaineering was largely spent in the Alps where he climbed a number of demanding routes, including the North Face of the Eiger in the winter of 1974-5.
In 1975 he experienced his first Himalayan peaks, preferring small light weight expeditions. After Dunagiri in 1976, he conceived the audacious idea of climbing the awesome West Wall of Changabang with Peter Boardman. In 1977 he attempted, without success, the North Ridge of Nuptse and in 1978 he went with Chris Bonington's expedition to K2,where he witnessed the huge avalanche that swept away his friend Nick Estcourt. The following year, in 1979, he went to Nepal and successfully climbed Kangchenjunga with Doug Scott, Peter Boardman and Georges Bettembourg. In 1980 he returned to K2 and in an epic attempt with Peter Boardman reached 7975 metres before being thwarted by unsettled weather.
Shortly after returning from K2, Joe attempted a winter ascent of the West Ridge of Everest. Later that year, in 1981, he summited Mount Kongur, an unclimbed peak in Western China, with Chris Bonington Peter Boardman and Alan Rouse. He returned again to Everest in March 1982 to climb the North East Ridge on which he tragically lost his life with Peter Boardman.
Joe developed a special talent for writing. His first book, Everest The Cruel Way, was an exciting account of his winter attempt on Everest and his second book, Savage Arena, was finished just before he left for Everest in 1982.