Monday, November 2, 2009

Conquering Everest

Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay about to establish camp below the South Summit of Mt. Everest.

At 11:30 am on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first human beings to scale Mount Everest. At a staggering height of 29,028 feet, it is the highest point on the planet. The two man team were part of the larger ninth British Everest Expedition, led by Colonel John Hunt.

According to the Time Magazine article:

By any rational standards, this was no big deal. Aircraft had long before flown over the summit, and within a few decades literally hundreds of other people from many nations would climb Everest too...Geography was not furthered by the achievement, scientific progress was scarcely hastened, and nothing new was discovered.

It was, however, the ultimate challenge as the mountain had claimed victory over seven previous expeditions.

Upon descending back to the expedition team, Hillary uttered the famous line: ‘Well George, we knocked the bastard off!’. They were asked who reached the top first. In fact, Hillary was the first to reach the summit, but he maintains that this is irrelevant, and that they reached it together. They spent a total of 15 minutes at the top, left a few trinkets, and took several photos. Of the Kodachrome photos, Hillary added: “I had carried my camera, loaded with colour film, inside my shirt to keep it warm, so I now produced it and got Tenzing to pose for me on the top, waving his ice-axe on which was a string of flags—British, Nepalese, United Nations, and Indian. Then I turned my attention to the great stretch of country lying below us.”

Upon their return home, Hillary and Hunt were both knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and Tenzing received a medal.

Sir Edmund Hillary

Edmund Hillary fixing one of the tents for camp at the head of Chola Khola.

Tenzing (left) and Hillary (right) ascend the Lohtse face on Everest.

Hillary and Tenzing in their mountaineering gear.

Tenzing on the Summit of Mt. Everest.

Hillary and Tenzing return from the summit of Everest.

Tenzing and Hillary drink tea at camp after climbing Everest.

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