Top US mountaineer Conrad Anker climbed the tower of London venue Union Chapel this week to mark his latest victorous climb of Mount Meru, Himalayas
Alpinist Conrad Anker may be famous for finding George Mallory, but the US climber can add another first to his roll call of greatness: climbing Islington’s Union Chapel tower and sleeping on a portaledge with a rather unusual view of London.
Anker was in town to take past in The North Face Speaker Series. Inside the venue, he recounted the last time he used the portaledge. By any measure, it was an amazing feat – the scaling of Mount Meru via the deadly Shark’s Fin ridge. This Himlayan peak was one of the last great unclimbed features of the range, and had already beaten Anker twice in the past.
This time round, accompanied by his two long-time climbing buddies and North Face teammates Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk, he got the prize. Anker spoke to the audience about the experience before introducing a special documentary about climbing the Shark’s Fin ridge and topping out the northwest face of the 20,700ft mountain.
“It’s some of the most technical, high-altitude climbing on earth in unimaginably punishing conditions. This time we came back to settle unfinished business,” Anker said of the expedition. Mount Meru was tantalisingly close last time he tried, where he and his team mates had to turn back just 100m shy of the summit due to bad weather.
Such a story only bolsters Anker’s legend. He and his team know the golden rule of successful mountaineering isn’t simply bagging the peak, but getting back alive.
It’s a lesson that echoes across time, too. Anker was the member of the Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition in 1999 that finally discovered the body of George Mallory. Mallory and Irvine had disappeared in 1924 during an early attempt on Everest, and the discovery and anaylsis of his body and the site around him has revealed new insights into these pioneering climbers.
Find out more about the Meru climb, and The North Face range of gear that Anker and the team wore, here