60 years since the Everest Ascent and they used a Lyte Ladder
On this day in 1953, Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay successfully reached the top of Everest, and they used a Lyte Ladder!
It has been something we have been aware of for quite some time and have celebrated this in previous years, but this anniversary is something quite special. Its the 60th Anniversary of the Ascent and we are proud to have been involved in some way.
The sectional ladder was used to negotiate a crevasse and, to our knowledge, is still there today!
Some books have been released for the Anniversary which carry images of the expedition, including some of the ladder and we have also found an extract in a book by Sir John Hunt, who lead the expedition, mentioning the task of getting a ladder that would be fit for the purpose in mind.
See the extract below from the book "The Ascent of Everest" by Sir John Hunt. Hodder & Stoughton; 2 edition (15 April 1993)
The need for some means of bridging wide crevasses had been recognised by Shipton as a result of his reconnaissance expedition in 1951. Something light, portable and strong was required, long enough to bridge a gap of 25 feet if necessary. The Swiss had used ropes, but we aimed at something easier for the constant stream of laden porters.
The problem was put to Lyte Ladders Ltd., of Newport. They first produced a bridge made rigid by bracing underneath. Although the rigidity was an advantage, the bracing would have been difficult to assemble with cold hands, and added to the weight. Eventually one of the Company's standard heavy-duty parallel builder's aluminium alloy ladders was chosen. The sag was considerable over a 25-foot gap, but it held the manager, the works foreman and myself together, without signs of collapse, so simplicity won the day.
The ladder was made up into five 6-foot sections, 14 inches wide, and each section was fitted with extruding sleeves to enable sections to be joined together. Four screws secured each junction. The whole ladder weighed only 57! Ib. It appears in Plates 20 and 23.
The largest gap bridged by us was a crevasse at the entrance to the Cwm; it was about 16 feet wide and so needed three sections of our bridge. Over this distance sagging was negligible. The crevasse was slowly closing and the ends of the ladder, which were frozen into the surface of the glacier, had often to be chipped free to prevent the ladder buckling.”