National Geographic : 1984 Jul
ABYRINTH of line (left) festoons the heights of the Buttress duringan attempt to rig a cargo tramway up the face of the rock wall. After arranging 4,000 feet of rope in a fishbone pattern on the snow so that it would pay out easily, we connected it to a small rocket used for launching lines between ships at sea. Then we aimed the rocket outwardand fired. This attemptfailed to clearall the ledges. Another try from lower down succeeded, and we riggeda winch designed by our nonclimbingengineer, John Boyle, powered by a five-horsepower engine capable of lifting 80-pound loads nearly 1,000 feet up the Buttress face. From a point higher up, a smaller winch,powered only by a counterweightof snow packed in a canvas bag, lifted the loads-more than halfa ton in all-another700 feet. The two winch systems saved us valuable time and effort. Kim Momb (above right) steadies an incoming load at the upper end of the powered winch. George Lowe (right), one of our strongestclimbers, strikes a nonchalantpose with nothingbeneath him but air. Oxygen tanks, which we used only during the final 3,000-foot assaulton the summit, hang suspended beside him. Teamwork, however, ratherthan oxygen or mechanicalaids, providedthe margin of success on Everest.