Tasker Joe

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geboren in Hull (Großbritannien)
gestorben am Mount Everest (Nepal)

Joe Tasker (+)
Mit 34 Jahren ist am 16./17.5.1982 der britische Alpinist Joe Tasker am Mount Everest tödlich abgestürzt. Gemeinsam mit Peter Boardman versuchte er den höchsten Berg der Erde über die Gangshung-Route auf dem Nordostgrat ohne künstlichen Sauerstoff zu besteigen. In den Westalpen konnte Joe Tasker auf eine Reihe bedeutender Begehungen zurückblicken. 1973 glückte ihm die erste britische Begehung der Dent-Blanche-Nordwand. 1974 und 1975 folgten Begehungen von Grandes-Jorasses-Walkerpfeiler
und Eiger-Nordwand (im Winter). Ab 1975 war Joe Tasker immer wieder als Teilnehmer von Expeditionen im Himalaya und Karakorum. So 1975 am Dunagiri (7066 m) und 1976 am Changabang (6864 m), wo ihm die Erstbegehung der Westwand gelang, unbestreitbar eine der technisch schwierigsten Kletter-fahrten, die bisher im Himalaya durchgeführt wurden. 1978 und 1980 war Joe Tasker Mitglied der britischen K2-Expedition. 1979 folgte die Erstbegehung des Kangchenjunga-Nordgrates (8586 m) ohne künstlichen Sauerstoff und 1980 die Teilnahme an der britischen Everest-Winterexpedition.1981 schließlich glückte ihm mit Chris Bonington und Peter Boardman, der mit ihm am Everest verunglückte, die Erstbesteigung des Kongur (7719 m). Joe Tasker lebte als Ladenbesitzer in Cheshire (England) und war als technischer Berater für Bergausrüstung tätig. Seine Erlebnisse während der Everest-Winterexpedition 1980 schilderte er eindrucksvoll in dem Buch »Everest the Cruel Way«.
Quelle: Der Bergsteiger 1982, Heft 9, Seite 68-69

Tasker Joe,* Hull (England), später Teesside, Port Clarence,Middlesbrough, Coumty Durham
+ Mount Everest-Nordostgrat verschollen
1973 Beg.Grandes Jorasses-Nordwand "Walkerpfeiler",VI/A1,1200 HM,4208m, (Montblancgebiet)
1973 Beg.Nesthorn-Nordwand,3822m, (Berner Alpen)
1973 Beg.Dent Blanche-Nordwand,4357m, (Walliser Alpen)
1974 Beg.Grandes Jorasses-Ostwand,4208m, (Montblancgebiet)
1975 Winterbeg.Eiger-Nordwand "Heckmair-Route",V,Eis bis 60°,1800 HM,3970 m, (Berner Alpen)
1975 1.Beg.Dunagiri-Südostgrat,7066m, (Himalaya,Indien)
1976 1.Beg.Changabang-Westwand bis 6776m,1500 HM, 6864m, (Garwhal Himalaya)
1978 Teilnehmer der britischen K2-Expedition,Best.Vers.K 2, (Karakorum,Pakistan)
1979 3.Best.Kantschenzönga-Hauptgipfel u.1.Beg.Nordflanke-Nordostgrat,8586 m, (Himalaya,Nepal/Tibet)
1980 Teilnehmer der britischen K2-Expedition, (Karakorum,Pakistan)
1980 Teilnehmer an der britischen Everest-Winterexpedition, (Himalaya,Tibet/Nepal)
1981 1.Best.Mont Kongur Shan,7719m, (Pamir,China)
1982 Teilnehmer British Everest Expedition, (Himalaya,Tibet/Nepal)
Gerd Schauer, Isny im Allgäu

The Loss of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker
We last saw Pete Boardman and Joe Tasker at around 9 pm on the evening of 17 May high on the NE ridge of Mount Everest. One figure was silhouetted against the darkening sky just short of the feature we called the Second Pinnacle (8250m) and the other was slowly working his way just below the crest of the ridge, towards a notch. It had been a long day for they must have left the shelter of the Third Snow Cave (7850m) before dawn to have reached the point, just above our previous high point on the First Pinnacle, when we first saw them through our
telescope at Advanced Base, that morning.
We watched throughout the day and could see the two red-clad figures very clearly as they moved slowly, one at a time, just below the crest of the ridge. Presumably they were leaving a line of fixed rope behind them since there were 300m of rope at the previous high point. The intention was to leave this in position to make it easier to return.
They had left Advanced Base on the 15th, and had moved straight through to our Second Snow Cave at 6812m that day; on the 16th they had climbed to the third Cave, which was stocked with food and fuel. We had last spoken to them there at 6 pm. They sounded optimistic and said they were going well. They had certainly moved up in very reasonable time. We had by then been in the Everest area for 2 months and in sieging the NE ridge had been becoming progressively acclimatised, with a series of 3 forays onto the ridge, each time reaching a higher point; on the first foray reaching 7250m, on the second 7000m and on the third around 8100m.
Dick Renshaw had been forced to withdraw from the expedition because of a mild stroke, and I had dropped out of the summit push because I was going so much slower than Pete and Joe who were fit and well acclimatised. They hoped to cross the Pinnacles on the 17th to reach the upper part of the NE ridge where it was joined by the original N ridge route at a height of around 8380m. They could not afford to spend more than 2 nights above 8000m if they were to have much hope of reaching the summit.
To safeguard their descent Adrian Cordon and I planned to make a route up to the North Col and await them there. This meant they would be able to descend the N ridge, thus avoiding a possibly hazardous retreat over The Pinnacles. We had arranged to call them on the afternoon of 17 May at 3 o'clock, but they did not reply. This could either have been due to radio failure or perhaps because they were too engrossed in the climbing. We continued to call them on the hour through the rest of the day but without success.
After good progress to the previous high point, they slowed down, a combination, no doubt, of the difficulty of the climbing and the altitude. We presumed that they camped on the night of the 17th, just out of sight over the crest of the ridge at the foot of the Second Pinnacle. They had a tent with them, so they might either have dug out a platform for the tent or could conceivably have dug a snow hole, though this seems unlikely in view of the amount of work involved.
They had had a long hard day of around 14 hours and had not made as much progress as they had probably hoped, with several rope lengths still to go to the end of the ridge. They needed at least one more night before they could hope to make a bid for the summit.
The following morning there was no sign of them. Adrian and I set out for the North Col and throughout that day kept the NE side of the ridge under observation. We knew they had to come into sight before the Final Pinnacle since on the other side was a sheer rock buttress, whilst on the NE side a line of ledges led onto the N face. We saw nothing that day and camped about 100m below the North Col.
We reached the North Colon the morning of 19 May. It was an excellent viewpoint for the exit out of the NE ridge and I am certain that Pete and Joe could not have reached the N ridge or face without us seeing them through our binoculars. We examined the ridge throughout the 19th and 20th, becoming increasingly worried. On the evening of the 20th we knew a brief but false feeling of hope when Adrian noticed a small, square-shaped orange blob on the N face just below the ridge. Next Morning, we realised that it was the wrong colour and shape to be their dome tent. It was probably a box tent abandoned by the French expedition of the previous year. By midday of the 21st we were convinced that there had been some kind of accident.
The distance that the pair had to cover out of our sight was so short (around 100m) that there seemed no other explanation. Had one of them fallen ill or been injured, it would have been a very short distance for the other member of the team to come back to signal us, even if their radio had failed. It seemed likely that they had left a line of fixed rope behind them, which would have made such a move comparatively easy. It seemed most unlikely that both would have fallen sick at the same time and would therefore have been unable to move.
Adrian and I descended to Advanced Base where Charlie Clarke was awaiting us having returned from escorting Dick Renshaw as far as Chengdu. He had reached Advanced Base on 20 May. The natural inclination to climb the ridge to see what had happened to them was impractical, since neither Charlie nor Adrian had the experience to venture on such difficult ground. In addition, we should have had to get all the way up to their high point to see anything useful. Knowing the outline of the ridge so well and in clear weather we would have seen the other pair if they had managed to retreat back down over The Pinnacles to one of the snow caves and, had they done this, at least one of them would have made his presence known to us. We therefore resolved that Charlie and I should go round to the Kangshung valley, to get a clear view of the other side of the ridge and just in case they had managed to descend on that side. Adrian remained at Advanced Base to keep the N side under observation.
We reached the head of the Kangshung valley on 28 May and had a good view of the SE side of the ridge. We saw no sign of them but the configuration of the upper part of the ridge confirmed our fears that they had both had a fall, most probably because of a collapse of one of the snow flutings. Looking up at the SE face, the most obvious route for them to have taken was up an open depression that led straight to the top of the Second Pinnacle (though from this side it looked more like a shoulder), since the ground on the SE side of the ridge was obviously very steep and we knew from our previous sortie that it was also formed of soft, unstable snow.
Had they taken this route they would have had barely more than 2 rope lengths before coming back into sight on the crest of the ridge. The fact that they did not suggests that an accident occurred either on the evening of the 17th or on the 18th, since they certainly should have come into sight that day. Had they retreated we should also have seen them when they came into sight below the Second Pinnacle. The weather and visibility was good throughout this period, with only a little passing cloud in the evenings.
This then is the interpretation that Adrian, Charlie and I made of what happened. Quite apart from the immense sorrow of losing 2 good friends and superb climbers, there must be the inevitable questions of whether the accident could have been avoided in any way and whether the strategy employed was the best in the circumstances. We were a small team, going for a big objective, but we had all chosen it that way, feeling that we wanted to be a 4-man team on the mountain. We did gain a great deal from this for until the very end, it was the happiest
expedition that any of us had ever been on.
A larger team would, perhaps, have enabled a support team to follow up the ridge to try to ascertain what had happened, but they might well not have discovered any more than we were able to by walking round to the Kangshung valley. But this 'what if avoids the real issue which is the justification of the small expedition which, through its very nature, compels the climbers involved on the mountain to be self-sufficient in an emergency. To me this self-sufficiency and level of commitment is the very essence of the mountaineering experience, representing a natural evolutionary development away from the large, structured expedition to a more flexible, challenging and, at the same time, more enjoyable approach to the mountains. If we are to talk about safety, I suspect that the small expedition is no more dangerous, as such, than the large one. The risks are simply different, but are more within the control of the individuals concerned.
Pete Boardman and Joe Tasker lost their lives on a climb that they were superbly qualified to attempt and which they both deeply and maturely wanted to achieve.
Christian Bonington
Quelle: Alpine Journal Volume 88, 1983, Seite 262-265

Joseph Thomas Tasker 1948 - 1982
Joe was born in Hull in 1948 and five years later moved to Teesside where his father worked as a school janitor until his retirement. He was one of 10 children in a very close-knit family from which a strong sense of consideration and thoughtfulness for others seemed to develop. Several members of his family were usually at the airport when Joe left on an expedition or returned. Just before leaving on this last expedition to Everest, Pete wondered whether Joe, noted for turning up at the last minute, would be on time to meet the press. 'He will be', said someone else, 'Joe might keep the press of the world waiting, but never his family. '
As the oldest son of a strongly Catholic family, Joe was sent to Ushaw College, a Jesuit seminary, at the age of 13. His 7 years there were to have a lasting effect on him in many ways. It was there that he started climbing, when he was 15, in a quarry behind the college, with the encouragement of Father Barker, one of the priests, and in the wellstocked library his imagination was fired by tales of epic adventures in the mountains. He was always grateful for the excellent education he had received, and his amazing will-power and stoicism may perhaps have been partly due to the somewhat spartan way of life and to the Jesuit ideals of spiritual development through self-denial. He started his training as a priest, but at 20 realised that he did not have the vocation and decided to leave - the hardest decision of his life.
In complete contrast to his life at Ushaw was his first job, as a dustman. He enjoyed the hard physical labour and the friendly banter with his workmates, and his forthright nature and ability to communicate with people from all walks of life broke down any barriers. He then went on to work in a quarry in the Lake District, where he was near to the crags, for by now climbing had become a major part of his life. Feeling the lack of the intellectual stimulation to which he had become accustomed at Ushaw, he decided to go to Manchester University to take a degree in sociology. The thin, fresh-faced youth looked the most unlikely of climbers, but he soon made a big impression in the University Climbing Club with his keenness and drive, doing hard routes and often climbing solo. His climbing career almost came to an early end whilst he was soloing Three Pebble Slab at Froggatt. His ancient pair of worn Kletterschuhe were not up to the thin friction and he fell, breaking his wrist so seriously that the specialist said that flexibility would be permanently impaired, curtailing his climbing. Never one to accept the hallowed words of the experts without testing their veracity, Joe regarded this as a challenge, and within a year was back climbing again with renewed enthusiasm, and a brand new pair of E.B. 'so
Whilst at university he was still finding his feet after so many years at the seminary, and, although he was conscientious and absorbed by his studies, it was a time of experimentation and exploration. He was. fascinated by the people living on the fringes of society, and met people among down-and-outs, alcoholics and gypsies who were going to the extreme in their own way. He had a deep concern for others and his understanding and genuine, warm nature made him a very good friend, but this side of him was not easily discernible as it was often hidden by an abrasive, hard shell. Despite his gregariousness and his ability as a raconteur, he was also in many ways a very private person, sometimes appearing quite secretive and even enjoying creating a sense of mystery by making partial disclosures. During decision-making, whether personal or at a group level, he would not air his thoughts until he had fully mulled over the problem within himself, often preferring to do so in solitude.
Although we were at the same university, we never climbed together during that period. Our first real encounter was in Chamonix in 1970 when on a wet, dreary day Joe's curly red head appeared through the door of my tent and he asked me if I fancied doing the North Face of the Dru. Having overcome his initial awe of the Alps, it being his second season, he seemed ready to tackle anything. It being my first, however, I was not and I demurred. The ice had been broken, and we spent our first Alpine season together the following summer, climbing some of the classic routes. The following season we again teamed up and developed a taste for North Faces. Joe really took to the mixed Alpine routes, relishing the insecure, delicate climbing. We were very different in personality and two seasons seemed enough, but none the less we ended up climbing together again in 1973 after a chance meeting in Chamonix. We were both very ambitious and that season we climbed the Walker Spur, The Bonatti-Gobbi Route on the Eckpfeiler Buttress, the N face of the Nesthorn, The N face of the Dent Blanche and the N face of the Eiger.
Joe had got a good degree earlier that year, but had decided not to settle into a career in order to be free to climb. At the end of the season all his money had gone and he decided to stay on in the Alps and find work in the Swiss vineyards in the autumn. He said that the penniless period between the end of the climbing season and statting work was one of the happiest times of his life. He survived on the refunds from empty wine bottles and on tins and packets of food left by departing climbers. He was able to relax and enjoy the mountains totally free from any cares about work, study or even climbing. After working in the vineyards, he worked with a group of young people at an archaeological site at Beaume in Switzerland, and later on we had an abortive attempt at winter climbing in the Alps.
In the summer of 1974 we met in Chamonix or; as Joe put it: 'There was the unplanned but inevitable encounter with Dick, alone and looking for a partner. It doesn't do to fight one's fate, and we arranged to climb together'. We did what Joe thought was one of his most memorable Alpine climbs-the E face of the Grandes Jorasses, an intricate and demanding route. Joe had been stretched intellectually by academic life, but the mountains provided the challenge to stretch mind and body to the full, although I was continually amazed that someone who was so attached to his creature comforts should become involved in a sport which entailed so much physical hardship. At home he loved warmth and comfort: it was as though in times of plenty he was storing up an excess to help him through leaner times on the mountains. Frequently it seemed as though only his will-power and determination drove his body on, and it was not unusual to see him bent double over his iceaxe at altitude, racked by fits of coughing and spitting blood. The vast physical effort needed for mountaineering did not come easily, but here, as in all his other activities, he had a powerful drive and restless energy. Our ascent of the N face of the Eiger in the winter of 1974/5 was a landmark in Joe's climbing. It was an exhilarating climb and provided a stepping stone to the Himalaya, giving us the necessary confidence to tackle a Himalayan peak as a 2 man team. In 1975 we left Manchester in an overloaded Ford Escort van, our destination Dunagiri, a 6900m peak in northern India. It was an adventure from the start, fraught with problems and difficulties, but Joe seemed very much in control and methodically overcame one obstacle after another. He had the uncommon knack of going straight to the heart of a problem and solving it in the most expedient way. By September we were at 6300m on the S ridge, but were insufficiently acclimatised, tired and with few supplies and little fuel left and should have retreated. We both suppressed our doubts and fears, however, and this almost cost us our lives. We struggled on to the summit, leaving no resources for the descent, which evolved into a 4 day epic and left me with badly frost bitten fingers. Joe was becoming more at ease and more appreciative of the mountain environment. Having a natural eye for photography, he was rapidly developing this talent and was able to record the mountains' changing moods. He was later to give a vivid description of the whole trip in his book 'Savage Arena'. In it he also describes the impression made on him by Changabang.' ... the days on Dunagiri were days of continual exposure to the subliminal presence of Changabang, that stupendous mountain. It had been a thing of beauty beyond our reach, a wall of difficulty beyond our capabilities, it had been the obstacle which blocked the sun's warming rays in the early morning and the silent witness to my delirious wanderings.'
He conceived the audacious idea of climbing the awesome W wall as a 2 man team. In Pete Boardman, Joe sensed a kindred spirit, and the 2 of them combined to make a formidable driving force. Their success was a source of great delight to Joe, particularly as a number of established climbers had deemed the climb impossible, and it was the start of a brilliant partnership and a firm friendship. The rivalry between them was often evident, both of them setting very high standards in their goals which the other felt he had to attain or to better. There was continual banter between them, which seemed to open up the chinks in each other's armour and Pete's presence seemed to induce in Joe a show of hardness and outrageous behaviour. They sometimes seemed like an old married couple, but their banter would not have existed without a deep mutual respect and a strong affection.
In 1977 he attempted, without success, the N ridge of Nuptse with Mike Covington and Doug Scott. That summer he went to the Alps but found that their allure was no more, and thereafter he applied himself wholeheartedly to Himalayan expeditions. In 1978 he went with Chris
Bonington's team to attempt the W ridge of K2 and he witnessed the huge avalanche which swept his friend Nick Estcourt to his death, after which the expedition was abandoned. The following year, 1979, he went to Nepal with Doug Scott, Pete Boardman and Georges Bettembourg to attempt the N ridge of Kanchenjunga (8598m) without oxygen. Until then, Joe's highest climb had been to 7000m, and to try to climb the third highest mountain in the world aroused in him many doubts about his ability to perform at altitude. Beneath Joe's appearance of confidence was a vulnerability which was very rarely expressed and which was counteracted by his ability to detach himself from his emotions. He proved himself capable of coping with the altitude and this exciting and successful ascent was for Joe an important personal achievement.
Frequent expeditions were taking their toll on his private life and his long absences and total involvement with mountaineering were too much for his personal relationships to withstand. In 1979 he began to organise an expedition to attempt once again the W ridge of K2. At about this time he met Maria Coffey, who was to become a constant companion and a great source of strength to him. I had not climbed with Joe since 1975, but we kept in touch and he had always been ready with his kind support. Valuing his friendships highly, he made great efforts to keep in touch with his many friends. Joe, Pete and myself reached a height of 7900m on the Abruzzi Spur in very unsettled weather. It was one day's climbing to the summit from our tent perched in a precarious position on a small ledge hacked out from a steep snow slope. During the night, after many hours of snowfall, an avalanche thundered down the slope, engulfing the tent, but miraculously not knocking it off the ledge. Joe was completely buried, Pete managed to extricate himself, dragged me out and we both dug out Joe. We had escaped death from the avalanche, but there were a further three days of harrowing descent down slopes which after continual snowfall had become extremely avalanche-prone, with annihilation seeming imminent at each step. Back at Base Camp each of us individually decided to go back up for another try, and it was this decision which made Joe' realise the depth of his commitment to mountaineering. It was an experience which had a profound effect.
Shortly after coming back from K2, Joe went off to attempt a winter ascent of the W ridge of Everest. Despite being still very weak and not having fully regained his weight, it was an example of his incredible willpower that he was able to find the strength to apply himself fully to the task in hand. This expedition was the theme for Joe's first book-'Everest The Cruel Way'. It was an exciting account and revealed Joe's talent for writing. He wrote it in a very short time and under great pressure as he was also running a climbing shop and preparing for yet another expedition. He was also becoming more involved with filming, and this was probably more suited to his gregarious nature. In 1981 Pete and Joe were again together, with Chris Bonington and Alan Rouse, on an expedition to Mount Kongur (7719m). It was by no means an easy climb and success came only through persistent efforts.
The ENE ridge of Everest offered a double challenge for Joe-not only to climb it, but to film the entire expedition. He seemed to be living life at a cracking pace and sometimes felt frustration that there was not enough time to do all the things he wanted. He had just finished 'Savage Arena' before leaving for Everest, and he completed his chapter for the Kongur book just before we flew to Lhasa. There didn't seem to be enough hours in the day to pack everything in, but it was evident that he was totally happy in what he was doing. At Base Camp there was the time and space to relax more fully and Joe amused us with funny stories and by appearing in the most bizarre clothes we had ever seen on an expedition. Life was never dull with him around, and the constant banter between him and Pete kept them on their toes and us entertained. I was very happy climbing with Joe: he had a fine judgement and I felt totally safe with him. He impressed us all with his professional attitude to filming and with his dedication, persevering in the foullest conditions. It was a bitter blow to me to have to leave the expedition after suffering a mild stroke, and the night before I left Base Camp, everyone went off to their own tents after an early supper to write letters to be sent the following day. Joe had a heavy work-load to get through, completing his film reports as well as writing letters but he must have sensed my desolation and, although it meant him working through most of the night, he stayed chatting with me and keeping me company for a couple of hours.
This thoughtfulness was typical of Joe and through his sometimes frenetic lifestyle there shone a very special warmth and vitality. He was an outstanding mountaineer and a very good friend, much missed by those who knew him.
Dick Renshaw
Editor's Note
A unique literary prize, The Boardman Tasker Award, has been established as a permanent tribute to Peter and Joe. The award has been set up to encourage new literary works on mountaineering, a winner being selected from candidates for an outstanding contribution, in the English language, to mountain literature. The Award will be made available from the investment proceeds of the Boardman Tasker Memorial Appeal Fund, its value depending on the success of the Appeal. Donations clo Matheson & Co. Ltd., 130, The Minories, London, EC3 1QL.
Quelle: Alpine Journal Volume 88, 1983, Seite 270-275

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