Edward Oliver Wheeler


Edward Oliver Wheeler
Canadian, 1890–1962

West Rongbuk Glacier, 227°59ʹ17ʺN, 86°55 ʹ31 ʺE, 1921
Black-and-white photograph
18 x 90 in. (45.7 x 228.6 cm)
Courtesy of Royal Geographical Society, London

Location: Northern Slope of Mount Everest, 29,028 ft. (8,847.7 m) Tibet, China
Range: Mahalangur Himal
Elevation of glacier: 17,300–20,341 ft. (5,273–6,200 m)
Average vertical ice loss: 341 ft. (104 m),1921–2008

Edward Oliver Wheeler was a surveyor, mountaineer, photographer, and president of the Alpine Club of Canada. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Arthur Oliver Wheeler (Canadian,1860–1945), whose photograph of Athabasca Glacier is also exhibited in Vanishing Ice.

In 1921, Wheeler accompanied George Mallory on the first topographical survey of Mt. Everest to identify the best approach to its summit. David Breashears, the filmmaker, mountaineer, and founder of the Glacier Research Imaging Project, rediscovered Wheeler’s photograph of the West Rongbuk Glacier. By comparing it to his own 2008 panoramic view, Breashears dramatically exposes the glacier’s vertical loss of 341 feet (104 m).