First winter ascent of Mount Fuji – archive, 1922 | Japan


Tokyo, March 21
Major Orde-Lees, parachute expert and Antarctic explorer, and Mr H Crisp, both of the British Air Mission in Japan, are the first climbers to summit Mount Fuji in the dead of winter. Major Orde-Lees is an experienced mountaineer, but Mr. Crisp has no previous mountaineering experience.

Mount Fuji is 12,388 feet tall. The ascent required sleeping two nights in a cabin at 4,700 feet. The snow extended from the summit up to 2500 feet. The last 4,000 feet below the summit was solid ice. This part of the climb took nine hours. The summit was reached at 7 p.m. on February 12. The whole descent was done in thick fog during the night. A violent thunderstorm raged throughout the first night. Including rests, ascent and descent took exactly 48 hours. A record barograph was carried throughout the expedition.

Mountaineers say the cold on the mountaintop at night was not severe. They had the misfortune to lose all their gear, cameras, spare clothes, thermos, snowshoes and all their food, “hiding” them at a height of 10,000 feet and being unable to find them in the fog and slush. darkness on the way. down. Although they were without food for 12 hours, they arrived in splendid condition at their starting point, Gotemba. No guides, horses or vehicles were employed other than a small sled made from a crashed plane, on which the climbers pulled their gear to the sleeping hut.

Thomas Orde-Lees, 1914. Photograph: public domain

Major Orde-Lees was part of the 1914-15 Shackleton Expedition, responsible for motor sleds, and made 81 parachute descents from airplanes to perfect aerial rescue.

Parachute descent from an airplane: the jump of the British major

August 12, 1921

The daring experiment of landing by parachute from an airplane at an altitude of between 2,000 and 3,000 feet was successfully carried out here yesterday by Major Orde-Lees, a member of the Shackleton Antarctic Expedition.

From a machine piloted by Captain Piercen, who recently arrived here from Warsaw, Major Orde-Lees jumped into space, and after falling some 1,200 to 1,500 feet, the parachute began to open, and before it fell another 200 to 150 feet, it opened to its fullest extent. Less than three minutes after departing the plane, Major Orde-Lees landed safely, to the enthusiastic cheers of a huge crowd of onlookers.


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