KATMANDU, Nepal — Peter Hillary, the son of the first man to climb Mt. Everest, has begun his own bid to scale the world's highest peak, the Nepalese Tourism Ministry said.
Hillary, 32, whose father, Sir Edmund Hillary, made the first ascent of Everest in May, 1953, along with Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, is leading a four-member team of New Zealanders and Australians.
They pitched their base camp at 18,470 feet on Aug. 23, according to the ministry spokesman.
Seven teams are planning assaults on the 29,028-foot mountain this fall, the start of the climbing season. Three are trying from its southern, or Nepalese, slopes and four from the Tibetan north.
Their members come from the United States, Japan, Britain, France, West Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Besides Hillary, who would be the first son of an Everest summiteer to conquer the mountain himself, this season's climbers are aiming for a number of other firsts:
- The first father-and-son bid for the summit.
- The first scaling of the east-northeast ridge, Everest's last unconquered feature.
- The first woman to reach the summit without oxygen.
- The first French and American women to the top.
- The first person to reach the summit by two previously unclimbed routes.
- The first American to the top by two different routes.
- The first person to ski down from the summit.
Hillary, who lives in Australia, is using a different route from his father's. He is taking his team up the south pillar of Everest.
Unlike Sir Edmund Hillary, now New Zealand's High Commissioner in New Delhi, the younger Hillary will be climbing entirely without the help of supplemental oxygen or Nepalese Sherpas.
This is Peter's second bid to follow his father to the top of the world. The first, three years ago, ended in tragedy when two Australian teammates fell to their deaths.
Britons Doug Scott and his son Michael are among a group of nine climbers aiming to conquer Everest's last unclimbed feature, the long and difficult east-northeast ridge.
Two Britons, Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker, disappeared while attempting this route in 1982.
Doug Scott, 45, is one of Britain's best-known mountaineers and in September, 1975, he made the first ascent of Everest's vast southwest face.
If the Scotts go to the summit together, they will be the first father-son pair atop Everest. The elder Scott would also be the first person to have succeeded on two previously unclimbed routes.
On the southeast ridge route pioneered by Hillary and Norgay, now the most frequently attempted, will be 11 Americans, including Peter Whittaker, 28, from Ashford, Wash., and the nephew of Jim Whittaker, the first American to reach the summit.
The elder Whittaker planted the Stars and Stripes on top of Everest with Norgay's nephew, Nawang Gombu Sherpa, on May 1, 1963.
Four women among Whittaker's teammates, and more on other U.S. expeditions on the northern slopes, will be battling to become the first Americans of their sex atop Everest.
Laurence de la Ferriere, 30, from Chamonix, wants to be the first Frenchwoman to the summit, and the first woman to succeed without supplemental oxygen.
Only six women, compared to 185 men, have stood at the top of the world--one each from Japan, China, Poland, West Germany, India and Canada.