Alison Hargreaves

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Alison Hargreaves
Tom Frost - Climbers on Kangtega - 1986.jpg
Hargreaves and Jeff Lowe climbing Kangtega, 1 May 1986
Personal information
Born(1962-02-17)17 February 1962
Derbyshire, England
Died13 August 1995(1995-08-13) (aged 33)
K2, Pakistan
Climbing career
Type of climberMountaineering

Alison Jane Hargreaves (17 February 1962 – 13 August 1995) was a British mountain climber. Her accomplishments included scaling Mount Everest alone, without supplementary oxygen or support from a Sherpa team, in 1995.[1] She soloed all the great north faces of the Alps in a single season—a first for any climber.[2] This feat included climbing the difficult north face of the Eiger in the Alps, in 1988. Hargreaves also climbed 6,812-metre (22,349 ft) Ama Dablam in Nepal.

In 1995, Hargreaves intended to climb the three highest mountains in the world—Mount Everest, K2, and Kangchenjunga—unaided. On 13 May 1995, she reached the summit of Everest without the aid of Sherpas or bottled oxygen, becoming the first woman and second person overall to do so (behind Reinhold Messner).[3] On August 13, she was killed while descending from the summit of K2. In 2018 The New York Times published a belated obituary for her.[4]

K2 climb[edit]


After a brief return to the United Kingdom to visit her family, she left in June 1995 to join an American team which had gained a permit to climb 8,611-metre (28,251 ft) K2, the world's second tallest mountain, located in Pakistan. K2 is regarded as a significantly more difficult and dangerous climb than Mt Everest. By August 13, 1995, the remnants of the US team and Hargreaves had joined forces with a New Zealand and Canadian team at Camp 4, around 7,600 metres (24,900 ft) above sea level, and at least 12 hours from the summit. Later that day, having joined with a Spanish team of mountaineers above Camp 4, New Zealander Peter Hillary, son of Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary, decided to turn back, noting that the weather that had been fine for the previous four days appeared to be changing.[5] At 6:45pm, in fine conditions, Hargreaves and Spaniard Javier Olivar reached the summit, followed by American Rob Slater, Spaniards Javier Escartín and Lorenzo Ortíz, and New Zealander Bruce Grant. All six died in a violent storm while returning from the summit.[6] Canadian Jeff Lakes, who had turned back below the summit earlier, managed to reach one of the lower camps but died from the effects of exposure.[2][3]

The next day, two Spanish climbers, Pepe Garces and Lorenzo Ortas (not Lorenzo Ortíz, who was killed in the storm), who had survived the storm at Camp 4, were descending the mountain suffering from frostbite and exhaustion. Before reaching Camp 3 they found a bloodstained anorak, a climbing boot, and a harness. They recognized the equipment as belonging to Hargreaves. From Camp 3 they could also see a body in the distance. They did not approach the body, so it was not positively identified, but they had little doubt it was Hargreaves' and concluded she had been blown off the mountain during the storm. After the incident, Captain Fawad Khan, the Pakistani army officer who was the team's intermediary with the rescue services, stated that he had urged her not to climb beyond base camp because it would be "suicidal" in the deteriorating weather conditions.[7][8]

Eiger north face

Personal life[edit]

Hargreaves grew up in Belper, Derbyshire and attended Belper High School.[9] Hargreaves was married to James Ballard. She was pregnant with her first child, Tom, when she climbed the Eiger north face.[10]

Tom Ballard became the first person to solo climb all of the six great north faces of the Alps in a single winter, that of 2014-2015.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Douglas, Ed. "The top of the world: A timeline of climbing Everest". BBC. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  2. ^ a b Roberts, Paul. "Scottish Climber Alison Hargreaves and Six Others Killed on K2". Outside Online. Archived from the original on 2009-12-23.
  3. ^ a b Alison Hargreaves Biographical entry from
  4. ^ Salam, Maya (14 March 2018). "Overlooked No More: Alison Hargreaves, Who Conquered Everest Solo and Without Bottled Oxygen" – via
  5. ^ Hillary, Peter. "In the name of the father: The 1995 K2 Expedition".
  6. ^ Child, Greg (November 1995). "The Last Ascent of Alison Hargreaves". Outside magazine.
  7. ^ Boggan, Steve (August 19, 1995). "K2: the final hours". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  8. ^ "Extract" (PDF). The Sunday Times. December 3, 1995.
  9. ^ Venables, Stephen (August 20, 1995). "Obituary: Alison Hargeaves". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  10. ^ Our Amazing Planet Staff (April 30, 2012). "8 Unsung Women Explorers". Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  11. ^ Shute, Joe (April 6, 2015). "Tom Ballard: the new king of the Alps". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-03-06.


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