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Almost two years ago, Alpinist invited Ed Webster to write a Mountain Profile on Mt. Everest. Ed was the obvious choice. He had firsthand experience from three trips up the mountain, including the first ascent of the Neverest Buttress on the Kangshung Face in 1988. One of the smallest expedition teams to pioneer a new technical route up Everest, Ed, Robert Anderson, Stephen Venables and Paul Teare climbed in impeccable style, without oxygen, radios or Sherpas. After his expedition, Ed went on to spend twelve years researching and writing his Everest book, Snow in the Kingdom, a 2001 finalist for the Banff Mountain Literature and the Boardman-Tasker awards.

But still, Ed questioned if such a task was too enormous. “Am I capable of condensing the history of Mt. Everest into a magazine-length story?” he wondered. (Snow in the Kingdom is 580 pages long—and it focuses on only a few climbs.) “Is it even humanly possible?”

Ed Webster exits the Jaws of Doom crevasse at 7000 meters during his 1988 expedition to the Kangshung Face, a climb that the great Reinhold Messner called “The best ascent of Everest in terms and style of pure adventure.” [Photo] Robert Anderson/Ed Webster collection