Making the Way to the Top

Expedition mountaineering as practised by the Czechoslovaks in particular
in the 1960’s and 1970’s entailed “laying siege” to a peak in order to reach the top. Advanced groups of climbers – alongside Sherpas – broke trails, building successive camps along the way and ensuring the smooth flow of supplies that would be used by climbers designated by the expedition leader to make the summit attempt.

The choice of who would expend strength and energy on the construction of the camps and who would spare themselves for the summit must have put a strain on the atmosphere of the climbing team. However, these dilemmas were an integral part of expedition style of mountaineering. The success of the expedition relied on team efforts as well as military style hierarchy and discipline. In sharp contrast to the highly individualistic ethos that has come to prevail in today’s world of high altitude climbing, these individual aspirations had to take second place in the collective driven world of the early Czechoslovak national expeditions.