THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY HONG KONG
"We conquered Everest"
Thursday, 8 January 2009
2/F Olympic House, So Kong Po, Causeway Bay
Drinks Reception and Book Signing 6.00 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm
followed by a Dinner at 9.00 pm in Mr. Band's honour at the Hong Kong Fooll Club
We are delighted and honoured to welcome to Hong Kong George Band, one of the greats of the mountaineering world, to lecture on "We conquered Everest". George Band was the youngest member of Lord Hunt's 90strong, 1953 Royal Geographical Society expedition, which successfully put Sir Edmund Hillary on the summit of Everest.
Selected for his Alpine climbing record, Mr. Band went on to play a critical part in the success of the expedition, pioneering the route through the Khumbu Icefall and then taking responsibility for equipment and food at the high altitude camps from which the successful group made their epic push to the summit. Just two years later Mr. Band went on himself to achieve the first ascent of Kangchenjunga, the world's third highest peak, and significantly more difficult than Everest.
George Band is the last of the team of 1953 still on the "speaker circuit" so for many Members this is a unique, or perhaps the only, chance to hear the incredible story of 1953 from one of the principal players.
In 1952, the Royal Geographical Society, together with the Alpine Club of London, became determined that they should mount a successful expedition to Everest and, if possible, achieve the conquest of the mountain in time to honour the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II. They chose as their leader a hardened veteran, Colonel Lord Hunt, who combined extraordinary leadership skills with meticulous planning. Lord Hunt chose a team comprising the finest climbers in the world, including the young George Band, who at that point, while already a famous Alpine climber, had never been to the Himalayas.
In this lecture, Mr Band tells the epic story of the first successful Everest Expedition, triumphing when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit on 29 May 1953, just in time for the news to reach London on the morning of the Coronation. Mr. Band tells first hand of the planning of an unprecedented scale which went into the expedition, the successes and the dramas of the months leading up to the final assault and the critical role he and others played in the thin air of the high altitude camps to allow the chosen mountaineers to reach for the summit. Then, in the climax of the story, with Lord Hunt's first team of mountaineers failing to reach the summit, Mr Band tells of the second "Hillary" team finding the then unknown, but now eponymous, "Hillary Step", involving rock climbing at over 28,000 ft, leading to their successful quest for the summit. He also tells of Lord Hunt's decision not to allow any other climbers to "summit", to ensure a casualty free expedition, and of Jan Morris's night crossing of the notorious Everest ice fall, to get the news to London.
George Band was born in England in 1930. Following the fame which came with his Everest role, two years later with Joe Brown, he achieved the first ascent of Kangchenjunga at 28,169 ft, the world's third highest peak. Lord Hunt had said that its ascent would be "the greatest feat in mountaineering, involving technical climbing problems and objective dangers of an order even higher than those we encountered on Everest". The ascent was not repeated for 22 years. In between these and other expeditions in the 1950s to the Karakoram, Peru and the Russian Caucasus, Mr Band established a formidable record as a mountaineer.
Mr. Band then moved into a successful business career, reaching the highest echelons of the international oil industry. His retirement was far from a "retirement", because Mr. Band has returned to his earlier loves of climbing, travelling, photography and talking about his experiences. In recent years, he has been leading adventurous treks for the travel company 'Far Frontiers' of which he is Chairman. Mr. Band remains an active traveller both personally and on expeditions, including recent expeditions to the Himalayas, along the Silk Road and in the Alps.
Mr. Band has been Chairman of the Mount Everest Foundation, Chairman of the Himalayan Trust, President of the Alpine Club of London, on the Council of the Royal Geographical Society and President of the British Mountaineering Council. He is author of three best selling books, "Everest: The Official History", "Everest: 50 Years on Top of the World" and "SUMMIT: 150 Years of the Alpine Club" to mark the 150th Anniversary of the world's first mountaineering club founded in London in 1857.
Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture, which is HK$100 for Members and HK$150 for guests and others.
All Members, with their guests, are cordially invited to a dinner in Mr. Band's honour, following the lecture, at The Hong Kong Fooll Club. If you wish to book places for the dinner, please complete the attached form. Please note that there are a limited number of places available and these will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
George Band Dinner,
Thursday, 8 January 2009
The Hong Kong Fooll Club
I require _____ member ticket(s) at $350 and _____ guest ticket(s) at $450 and I enclose a cheque or ATM/internet transfer confirmation for $___________. This includes a three course dinner with wines.
For payment by cheque, this form should then be sent to: RGSHK, GPO Box 6681, Hong Kong. Please make cheques payable to "Royal Geographical Society HK".
For internet/ATM transfer, please send full details of the transfer with your booking form.
RGS account details: HSBC account number: 511304644001
RGS account name: Royal Geographical Society Hong Kong
Thank you for attending this event.