Everest Trash to Treasure: A Battery with a Story

by JAKE NORTON

April 2024
I've got a lot of things in my office, old and new, bought and found and scavenged and given to me. They're disparate items, lots from Everest, many from the hinterlands of the Rockies, others from the ramparts of the Tibetan Plateau and Himalaya. Many of these items, from tent poles and pitons to salt […]

I've got a lot of things in my office, old and new, bought and found and scavenged and given to me. They're disparate items, lots from Everest, many from the hinterlands of the Rockies, others from the ramparts of the Tibetan Plateau and Himalaya.

Many of these items, from tent poles and pitons to salt bags and shaligrams, have rested where they are for quite some time, untouched, neglected, their stories as dusty as their surfaces.

Bookshelf in my office containing the fascinating trash/treasure collected over the years, including a battery from 1922, Everest postcard from 1924, a pill bottle from 1933, piton from 1938, piton hammer from 1960, and more.
Bookshelf in my office containing the fascinating trash/treasure collected over the years, including a battery from 1922, Everest postcard from 1924, a pill bottle from 1933, piton from 1938, piton hammer from 1960, and more.

Last week, I decided to change that, to unearth as it were not the items so much as their backstories, their hidden histories and meanings and narratives that perhaps render them more than just dusty items on a shelf, and give them a significance - one that attracted me to them in the first place.

The first item that begged for more was a simple one that had stumped me for years. Stumped me not so much because it's story was esoteric or mindboggling, but just because I had not given it much time beyond a superficial understanding of what it was: a battery from 1922, found discarded, abandoned, in the remains of the 1922 Camp III (Advanced Basecamp) on Mount Everest.

As I tend to do, I went down the rabbit hole, digging for sources and information, wanting to be as close to 100% certain of the story before making any pronouncements. So, I scoured old manuals, hunted auction listings and articles and century-old advertisements, eventually getting not quite to 100% certainty of my hunches - maybe 95% - and sat yesterday in my office trying to tell the story.

So, below, enjoy the story of a battery from 1922:

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