Legends of Everest

Mount Everest, also named Sagarmatha (Nepalesian), Chomolungma  (Tibetian) or Zhumulungma (Chinese), is a symbol of extremes. It is supposed to be the highest mountain on earth,  to be really dangerous and one of the last remaining adventures on earth. However, both aspects are not fully correct

The conquest of Everest started in the early 20th century. It produced many legends who had first achieved remarkable ascends or descends. Today, records are measured for almost everything: the youngest person to climb Mount Everest, and the oldest one. The fastest ascent with and without bottled oxygen, the first helicopter landing, the first descent by paraglider and the first descent by snowboard or skies.

I selected nine of those legend climbers and painted them.

Legends of Everest

Legends of Mount Everest
2013, 9 * 90 * 90 cm, Oil, Primer and Tempera on Linen

I chose this approach to characterize Mount Everest. Like Claude Joseph Vernet I am not convinced that any painting, drawing or photography existing so far is able to reflect the full size of Mount Everest – even the 2 GB photo of David Breashears fails in this aspect.

The portraits of George Mallory, Sir Edmund Hillary, Reinhold Messner,  Junko Tabei, Russell Brice, Marco Siffredi Robert Hall, Long Dorjee and an unknown climber give an impression of what it took to master the mountain.  See the table for information from left to right and from top to bottom:

Climber First to …

Russell Reginald Brice
(born 3 July 1952)

First to lead three expeditions on Everest which were filmed by the Discovery Channel. The series touts Brice’s experience, weather savvy, and professionalism compared to other groups on the mountain.

Sir Edmund Percival Hillary
(20 July 1919 – 11 January 2008)

First to summit Mount Everest on 29 May 1953 with Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay.

Robert Edwin Hall
(14 January 1961 – 11 May 1996)

Not first but known for being head guide of a 1996 Mount Everest expedition in which he, a fellow guide, and two clients perished.

Reinhold Messner
(born 17 September 1944)

First to climb the Everest without  oxygen with Peter Habeler on 8 May 1978.First to climb free solo on 20 August 1980.

Junko Tabei
(田部井 淳子, born September 22, 1939)

First women to to reach the summit of Mount Everest. On May 16, 1975.

Long Dorjee
(born around 1969)

Not first but one of the most experienced Everest climbers. He summited Everest 13 times.Not Dorjie Sherpa who, as of 2004, holds the world record for the quickest climb of Mount Everest in 8 hours and 10 minutes. Also not Dorjee Sherpa who married his girlfriend Moni Mulepati on Summit of Mount Everest.

 Unknown

Not first, but alive.

George Herbert Leigh Mallory
(18 June 1886 – 8 or 9 June 1924)

First to extensively explore Mount Everest in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest in the early 1920s. During the 1924 British Mount Everest Expedition, Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew “Sandy” Irvine both died only about 800 vertical feet from the summit.

Marco Siffredi
(22 May 1979 – September 8, 2002)

First to descend Mount Everest on a snowboard in 2001 via the Norton Couloir. In 2002, he disappeared after making his second successful Everest summit, while attempting to snowboard the Hornbein Couloir.

I have harmonized the portraits by eliminating the background and using the same color for their clothing. Focus is on the faces of the climbers and its expressions. The green color of the clothing has been achieved using tempera of Titan white and Terra di Sienna and an Imprimatur of Green Soil. This is technique has been used for portraits since Renaissance to paint under and prepare “Halbkreidegrund”.

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