Pete Schoening Dies

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Pete Schoening, one of the greatest climbers from the golden age of expeditionary mountaineering in the 1950s, died this week. He was 77. Schoening is most famous for his efforts during a 1953 American attempt on then-unclimbed K2. During a storm at 25,200 feet, one member of the expedition developed life-threatening blood clots. As the team evacuated their companion, one climber slipped and pulled four other into a tumbling fall. Schoening braced his wooden ice axe behind a boulder, and, with the rope wrapped around the axe and his hip, managed to hold all five falling climbers plus the injured man, undoubtedly saving their lives. But Schoening should be remembered as a climber for much more than his famous belay. He led the first ascents of Mount Augusta and the East Ridge of King Peak in the Yukon in 1952. Along with Andy Kaufmann, he summited Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak) in 1958, thus making the only American first ascent of an 8,000-meter peak. And in 1966, he made the first ascent of Antarctica’s highest summit, Vinson Massif.