Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Thomas Hornbein Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 669
Mandeville Special Collections Library
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
Language of Material:
26.0 Linear feet
(61 archives boxes, 1 card file box, 3 1/2" film reel boxes, and 2 oversize folders)
Date (inclusive): 1958 - 2003
Papers of Thomas Hornbein, M.D., professor emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle Departments of Anesthesiology,
and Physiology, and Biophysics and veteran mountaineer climber, explorer, and educator. The papers document the American Mount
Everest Expedition where Hornbein and his climbing partner Willi Unsoeld reached the summit of Mount Everest via the West
Ridge in 1963, the first to accomplish this climb. In addition, the collection includes correspondence to and from the medical
community, published articles, lecture materials, subject files, and materials related to Hornbein's professional affilation
memberships. The papers also focus on Hornbein as author of
Everest: The West Ridge
and as editor, with Robert Schoene, of
High Altitude: An Exploration of Human Adaptation
, with many of the materials representing drafts and page proofs. A large portion of the collection documents Hornbein's chairmanship
and faculty career at the University of Washington and materials related to medical expeditions to China and Pakistan. Also
included are biographical documents such as photographs, newspaper clippings, and audio and video materials.
Hornbein, Thomas F., 1930-
Scope and Content of Collection
The papers of Thomas Hornbein, M.D., prominent anesthesiologist, high altitude physiologist, and mountaineer, document his
scientific and exploratory achievements in the areas of high-altitude breathing and the regulation of brain/acid balance.
The notable portions of the collection are the materials related to the American Mount Everest Expedition, resulting in a
book authored by Hornbein titled
Everest: The West Ridge, and the subject research files with successive published writings and lectures. The papers also include correspondence,
materials related to other significant mountain expeditions, Hornbein's professional affiliations documents, additional grant
and research projects, and biographical materials. A modest portion of the collection also relates to administrative records
during his chairmanship of the University of Washington, Department of Anesthesia and his committment to resident education.
The papers are arranged in sixteen series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2)
EVEREST: THE WEST RIDGE, 3)
HIGH ALTITUDE: AN EXPLORATION OF HUMAN ADAPTATION, 4) WRITINGS BY HORNBEIN, 5) AMERICAN MOUNT EVEREST EXPEDITION, 6) OTHER EXPEDITIONS, 7) LECTURES AND TALKS, 8) CONFERENCES
AND SEMINARS, 9) SUBJECT FILES, 10) PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS, 11) TEACHING MATERIALS, 12) GRANT MATERIALS, 13) RESEARCH PROJECTS,
14) UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON - DEPARTMENT OF ANESTHESIA, 15) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 16) AUDIO AND VIDEORECORDINGS, and 17)
BORN DIGITAL MATERIALS.
SERIES 1: CORRESPONDENCE
The CORRESPONDENCE series contains Hornbein's incoming and outgoing correspondence with researchers in the fields of high
altitude medicine and anesthesiology, professional organizations, colleagues, and researchers. The letters are arranged alphabetically
EVEREST: THE WEST RIDGE
EVEREST: THE WEST RIDGE is a pictorial and narrative account of the first ascent over the West Ridge of Mount Everest by Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld
as part of the American Mount Everest Expedition, 1963. Included in the series is correspondence, drafts, and edited gallery
proofs. The series is arranged by book production timeline.
HIGH ALTITUDE: AN EXPLORATION OF HUMAN ADAPTATION
HIGH ALTITUDE: AN EXPLORATION OF HUMAN ADAPTATION is a reference book edited by Hornbein and Robert Schoene that explores how humans respond to high altitude. The papers consist
of production type materials including chapter-by-chapter drafts with related correspondence from individual authors. The
series is arranged numerically by chapters.
SERIES 4: WRITINGS BY HORNBEIN
The WRITINGS series contains both articles and book chapters written individually by Hornbein and with collaborators. The
papers also reflect Hornbein's editorial responsibilities between 1980-2001 in the form of book and annotative reviews. The
series is arranged in two subseries: A) Articles and B) Editorial Book Reviews.
A) The Articles, organized chronologically, represent published and non-published reprints and book chapters researched and
authored by Hornbein and others between 1964-2001. The files contain correspondence related to publication, page proofs, drafts,
and copies of original articles. The subseries contains collegial published research articles in journals such as
Journal of Applied Physiology, and
New England Journal of Medicine.
B) Hornbein was editor of the American Physiological Society from 1967-1973, and peer reviewer for journals such as the
Journal of Applied Physiology (since 1977) and
Anesthesiology (1989-1991). The subseries, arranged chronologically, contains copies of papers submitted by colleagues for review by Hornbein
SERIES 5: AMERICAN MOUNT EVEREST EXPEDITION, 1963
The bulk of the AMERICAN MOUNT EVEREST EXPEDITION (AMEE) materials is correpondence related to the organization and post-expedition
experience. The expedition, supported in part by the National Geographic Society and headed by Swiss-American mountaineer
Norman Dyhrenfurth, placed the first Americans atop Mount Everest and pioneered the West Ridge ascent accomplished by Hornbein
and William Unsoeld. The papers are arranged in five subseries: A) Pre-expedition Correspondence, B) Post-expedition Correspondence,
C) Correspondence between Thomas and Gene Hornbein, D) Equipment and Medical Materials, and E) Miscellaneous.
A) Between 1961 and 1963, Hornbein was in correspondence with the Maytag Company regarding the manufacture of a newly designed
high altitude oxygen mask. The Pre-expedition Correspondence represents the interaction between expedition team members including
Norman Dyhrenfurth and Willi Unsoeld regarding the pre-expedition testing of the mask and general organizational issues. Also
included are the letter exchange for the original refusal for Hornbein's release from the United States Navy and then subsequent
honorable discharge on the recommendation of Robert Sargeant Shriver (brother-in-law to John F. Kennedy).
B) The Post-Expedition Correspondence dating from 1964-1981 documents Hornbein's reflections on the Everest expedition, acceptance
letters for lectures on the expedition, and publishing offers for the book
Everest: The West Ridge. In 1963, he accepted an assistant professorship, Joint Appointment in the Department of Anesthesiology and the Department
of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, resulting in correspondence with John Bonica,
M.D., and other UW medical faculty.
C) The Correspondence between Thomas and Gene Hornbein is copies of handwritten letters written from February to June, 1963,
during the 1963 Everest Expedition.
D) The Equipment and Medical Materials subseries consists of various equipment and supply lists necessary to the expedition.
Also included is research data on the Maytag oxygen mask. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
E) The Miscellaneous materials include expedition newsletters and bulletins, photographs of Willi Unsoeld and Thomas Hornbein,
and organizational materials concerning both the 20th and 25th anniversary celebrations of the 1963 Everest Expedition.
SERIES 6: OTHER EXPEDITIONS
In addition to the expedition to Everest, Thomas Hornbein continued his mountaineering with expeditions to China and Pakistan.
The American Meili Snow Mountain Expedition (1989) was a return friendship mission to China coordinated with the China International
Sports Travel. Hornbein had previously participated in an expedition with the American-Muztagh team along with veteran climber
Nicholas Clinch to China in 1985 with a similar purpose of facilitating cooperation in mountaineering. The series also includes
materials related to the two expeditions to Pakistan, Masherbrum peak in 1960, and Paijua in 1974. The trip in 1960 caused
Hornbein to redesign the oxygen masks used for high altitude breathing. The papers, arranged alphabetically by title of expedition,
include correspondence, diary accounts, equipment and medical lists, notes, and photographs.
SERIES 7: LECTURES AND TALKS
Arranged by title of lecture, this series includes a portion of presentations given by Hornbein between 1966 and 1991. The
papers include transcripts, notes, and visual aids from the lectures.
SERIES 8: CONFERENCES AND SEMINARS
The CONFERENCES AND SEMINARS series, arranged alphabetically by title of conference, documents Hornbein's travel to conferences
and seminars. This series contains correspondence, brochures, notes, and speech transcripts.
SERIES 9: SUBJECT FILES
The SUBJECT FILES series includes source materials on high altitude pulmonary edema, additionally with two separate files
on John Bonica, M.D. and William Unsoeld. The files consist of correspondence, biographies, and memorabilia and is arranged
SERIES 10: PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS
The PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS series partially reflects the numerous professional positions Thomas Hornbein has retained since
1964. Materials include correspondence and meeting minutes for his chairmanship of the Scientific Advisory Board of the American
Society of Anesthesiologists, president of the Association of University Anesthetists, section chairman for the Institute
of Medicine, and member of the board of directors for the Washington Physicians Health Program. The series is arranged alphabetically
SERIES 11: TEACHING MATERIALS
In addition to curriculum planning committees, Hornbein served as a faculty lecturer for the University of Washington School
of Medicine courses in human biology-physiology, anesthesiology residency courses, and physiology courses. The materials include
class syllabi, notes, lecture materials and slides, and are arranged alphabetically by course title.
SERIES 12: GRANT MATERIALS
The GRANT MATERIALS are arranged into various grant funded expeditions and research grants. Hornbein advised the American
Medical Research Expedition to Everest (AMREE, 1981) headed by John West, M.D., Operation Everest II (1982-1985), and the
Ultima Thule Everest Expedition (1984). The research from studying the AMREE participants of the Operation Everest II project,
resulted in the Human Cerebral Function at Extreme High Altitudes grant investigated by Thomas Hornbein, Brenda Townes, M.D.
and Robert Schoene, M.D. The material includes grant proposals, correspondence, data research, and notes.
SERIES 13: RESEARCH PROJECTS
The materials in the RESEARCH PROJECTS range from formal multi-participant studies to individual scientific subject-based
analysis. The files, arranged alphabetically by topic or title of research, date from research conducted between 1959-1999.
The material types vary from computation notebooks to graph analyses. Included are papers documenting the Delphi Study on
Directions in Anesthesia Research, of which Hornbein was the principal investigator.
SERIES 14: UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON - DEPARTMENT OF ANESTHESIA
The UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON - DEPARTMENT OF ANESTHESIA records document administrative business affairs during the tenure
of Thomas Hornbein as professor and department chairman. The series is arranged in three subseries: A) Interdepartmental Correspondence,
B) Meeting Minutes, and C) School of Medicine Residency Program.
A) The Interdepartmental Correspondence, arranged by date, represents memos and letters to staff composed by and addressed
to Hornbein between 1970-2002.
B) The Meeting Minutes, arranged alphabetically, are general department minutes for various internal committees including
the Clerkship Planning Group and the UW Mountain Climbing Review Committee.
C) The School of Medicine Residency Program files document Hornbein's involvement as residency training committee member and
advisor in resident education. The papers are administrative in nature with correspondence dating from 1974-1999.
SERIES 15: BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS
Arranged alphabetically, the BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS series contains newspaper articles featuring Hornbein, mostly related
to the American Medical Everest Expedition; curriculum vitae; photographs; interviews; biographies; and memorabilia.
SERIES 16: AUDIO AND VIDEORECORDINGS
The AUDIO AND VIDEORECORDINGS represent recordings from the American Medical Everest Expedition in the form of radio audio
transmission conversations during the expedition on reel-to-reel tapes. Also included are videorecordings for lectures given
by Hornbein and the
Anesthesia: Inhaled or Injected? instructional tapes.
SERIES 17: BORN DIGITAL MATERIALS
The BORN DIGITAL MATERIALS contains floppy diskettes of chronological correspondence, drafts of articles, and other writings.
Born in 1930 in St. Louis, Missouri, Thomas Hornbein developed an early interest in geology and mountain exploration. He began
his academic career as a geology major at the University of Colorado from (1948-1952) where he began teaching mountain rescue
and first aid courses, prompting an interest in medicine. He returned to his hometown in St. Louis, Missouri, to attend medical
school at Washington University School of Medicine (1952-1956) and then residency training and postdoctoral research (1957-1961).
He continued his interest in high altitude and physiology of breathing as a NIH-supported research fellow with Dr. Albert
After holding an instructorship at Washington University, St. Louis, he served his military duty as a Lieutenant Commander
in the United States Navy stationed in San Diego Naval Hospital (1961-1963), during which time he requested an honorable discharge
to be a member of the American Mount Everest Expedition in 1963. With veteran mountaineer Willi Unsoeld, Hornbein reached
the summit of Mount Everest on May 22, 1963, to become the first climbers to ascend the mountain via the West Ridge and to
traverse down the other side. The team was presented with the National Geographic Society Hubbard Medal by President John
F. Kennedy in July 1963.
Upon returning from the Everest expedition, Hornbein assumed a position as Assistant Professor, joint appointment in the Department
of Anesthesiology and the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington in Seattle (1963). His tenure
at UW continued as Associate Professor (1967), Professor (1970-2002), Chairman of the Anesthesiology Department, School of
Medicine (1978-93), and Professor Emeritus (2002-present).
Dr. Hornbein's research has focused on the stimuli which prompt animals to breathe, particularly carotid body and central
chemosensors and the regulation of brain acid base balance. His studies have yielded over 100 journal articles and book chapters.
He also maintained editorial responsibilites for
High Altitude: An Exploration of Human Adaptation, co-edited with Robert Schoene, M.D., which included more than twenty contributing authors. His editorial responsibilities
have extended to the American Physiological Society, as an editor and book reviewer and to scholarly journals such as
Anesthesiology and the
Journal of Applied Physiology.
Dr. Hornbein's interest in expedition and mountaineering has led him to climbs in Karakoram in Pakistan and China. In addition
to his international expeditions, he has climbed Mount Rainier in Washington and Long's Peak in Colorado. The climb of Masherbrum
peak (1960) provided a unique experience for Hornbein, prompting him, with the support of the Maytag Company, to devise a
single-valved oxygen mask more effective for high altitude climbing. The concept mask was subsequently created for the Everest
climb in 1963.
Dr. Hornbein currently lives in Estes Park, Colorado and continues his interest in mountaineering and high altitude adaptation
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Thomas Hornbein Papers, MSS 669. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.
Master audio and videorecordings including reel-to-reel tapes and video and audiocassette tapes located in Series 16 and the
born digital materials located in Series 17 are restricted. Researchers must request user copies be produced.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
American Mount Everest Expedition (1963).
Altitude, Influence of
Everest, Mount (China and Nepal)--Description and travel
Everest, Mount (China and Nepal)--Discovery and exploration
Everest, Mount (China and Nepal)--Environmental conditions