Mike Westmacott died on June 20, 2012 aged 87. His name may not be known widely outside the circle of professional mountaineers but he was the last member of the team of British climbers who were the first to conquer Mount Everest.
Mike loved climbing and was 27-years-old when he became one of four members who had to find a way through the Khumbu icefall. An area of crevasses and ice cliffs it is known for its great danger. Westmacott’s responsibility was to build makeshift bridges from ladders, logs and ropes to make sure that it was safe to go through this treacherous section.
Afterward he helped George Band and George Lowe establish a route through the Lhotse Face. This is a wall of ice which is nearly 4000ft high. Unfortunately, there he was forced back because of altitude sickness.
He would not go completely off the mountain but continued to work hard to keep the icefall open. He was delighted when Hillary and Tenzing returned from conquering the summit of Everest. He later remembered that they were all enthusiastic and he rushed towards them to shake their hands.
Michael Horatio Westmacott was born on 12 April 1925 in Babbacombe, Devon. His father was in the Royal Navy. He joined the Indian Army Corps of Engineers and served in Burma. He then went to Oxford, reading mathematics, and became a keen rock climber.
When he heard about the Everest Expedition he was working as an agricultural statistician at the Rothamsted Experimental Station.
When he returned from the Everest expedition he joined Shell though and with his wife Sally made first ascents in Peru, Alaska and Hindu Kush. He established a Himalayan index and put over 2,500 Himalayan peaks on the map. He also wrote a key research tool for exploratory mountaineers.
Mike is survived by his wife Sally. May he rest in Peace.
Tags: Everest expedition, Hillary, Sherpa Tensing, Mike Westmacott dies, British climber