While looking through our archives in our Northampton shoe factory a couple of years ago, we stumbled upon a Tricker’s order book dated 1960. Among many of the beautifully handwritten orders inside, we found a request for special boots to be made for Sir Edmund Hillary and his Himalaya expedition team.
Seeing his name listed in the order book alongside his team members, with their individual foot measurements and notes, made us curious to find out more. After some research, we discovered the boots were needed for a forthcoming Himalayan geographical ascent of Ama Dablam in 1961.
The famed New Zealand born mountain climber and Antarctic explorer, along with Tibetan mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953.
After this, Sir Edmund Hillary went to the South Pole and ventured on many further expeditions.
As an homage to the explorers, our Himalaya collection for men reimagines the boots worn on this climb.The three styles in the collection are named after a member of the expedition: Hardie, Bishop and Ottenburger. Available in Navy, Burgundy and Black, each boot features a Shearling half lining, a white through to represent snow and a rugged commando sole.
Celebrating it’s 80th anniversary this year, all styles are built on the 4497S last. This is our famous country boot last which comes up generous but is true to a regular UK sizing.
A small excerpt taken from notes highlights the enormity of the task facing the experienced expedition team:
“It was on March 24th that the team first reached Namche Bazaar, on their way in with the last baggage train of the 1960-61 Himalayan Scientific and Mountaineering Expedition. Initially, they were politely informed by the check-post captain, that owing to an unscheduled ascent of Ama Dablam, permission to attempt Makula had been cancelled and the expedition was to be recalled to Kathmandu.
Hilary flew out to Kathmandu and threw himself, with characteristic vigour, into several days of diplomatic wrangling out of which he finally emerged victorious, and thus the team were eventually united in the Mingbo Valley. Makula’s summit could be gazed from Ama Dablam and ahead was an ambitious programme for the team. To reach the base of their objective they had to transport 200 loads ( which had already been carried 100 miles from Kathmandu ) over three difficult passes at 19,500 feet, 20,350 feet and 20,000 feet respectively. To attack this mammoth task they had equipped 50 Sherpas, many of whom were on their first expedition”
A full report of the expedition is written up in The Himalayan Journal Volume XXIII, 1961 published on behalf of the Himalayan Club by the Oxford University Press.
How to care for your Himalaya footwear
- – Remove dirt or marks then polish with a clean cloth.
- – Once a fortnight use shoe cream to nourish the leather.
- – Once a fortnight use polish for weatherproofing.
- – Use black for black leather and neutral for all other colours.
- – Keep your footwear in their shoe bags provided to prevent damage.
- – Use shoe trees to help maintain shape.
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Notes on the Himalaya Explorers
In May 1959, on the strength of his photographs from Antarctica and the Bugaboos, Barry Bishop was hired by the National Geographic Society as Picture Editor for National Geographic. He rose quickly with the magazine, becoming a photographer for the magazine in 1960, and had his first published photography in 1962. His 1963 photography work on the American Everest Expedition earned him a National Press Photographers Association Special Award. Eventually he would become a vice president and Chairman of the Committee for Research and Exploration.
Leigh Ortenburger graduated with a master’s degree from the University of California in Berkeley in 1953. While in the San Francisco Bay Area, he frequently climbed in Yosemite, often with members of the Stanford Alpine Club. The ultimate test of his courage, skill and dedication to his fellow climbers occurred on Makalu in 1961. As a member of Edmund Hillary’s 1961 expedition to that mountain. When Tom Nevison and New Zealander Peter Mulgrew were making their summit assault from Camp VII without artificial oxygen, Mulgrew collapsed at 27,400 feet with a pulmonary embolism. After two nights above 26,000 feet, Nevison as well as Mulgrew was severely dehydrated and could barely move. It was left to a few Sherpas and Leigh Ortenburger, who had climbed up in support, to get Peter Mulgrew down to Camp V. At one point, Leigh had to spend the night out alone with Mulgrew between Camps VII and VI. But Leigh not only survived; he persevered and eventually Peter Mulgrew was saved. It was one of those great selfless moments in the history of mountaineering.
Norman David Hardie
Norman David Hardie was born in Timaru in 1924. He left school early and, encouraged by his father, spent two seasons hunting deer in the Boyle and Hurunui River valleys. Encouraged by a local Timaru engineer, in 1943 Hardie enrolled at Canterbury University College for a degree in civil engineering. He continued hunting to finance his studies, but became increasingly involved in tramping (the New Zealand term for hiking) and mountaineering. He graduated from Canterbury in 1947 and worked at Lake Pukaki on the hydroelectricity scheme. He first met Edmund Hillary during a rescue mission for an injured climber on La Perouse in 1948 described as “the most arduous rescue in New Zealand’s climbing history”. After briefly working in Wellington, Hardie left for England in late 1950. In London, he lived with other climbers from New Zealand. After Edmund Hillary‘s successful first ascent of Mount Everest, the New Zealand Alpine Club organised an expedition into the Barun Valley in Nepal in 1954. Hardie’s role was to survey and map the routes up to Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world. He became close friends with Charles Evans during the expedition. When Evans received a telegram during the expedition inviting him to lead an attempt to climb Kangchenjunga in the next season, he asked Hardie to join him. Kangchenjunga, the third-highest mountain, was then the highest unclimbed peak.