Some of the historical figures whose name one should never forget whenever mountaineering becomes a subject of discussion.
GEORGE MALLORY – Tried to climb Everest in 1924 but failed and died.
Not mentioning George Mallory’s name in the discussion of Everest Expedition will be a big injustice to him as well as to Mt. Everest and the whole mountaineers’ community. George Mallory was a man with an extreme will power in the ascent of Mt. Everest. He was lost on Mt. Everest on June 8th 1924. His remains were conclusively identified on May 2, 1999 by a team of Eric Simonson, Dave Hahn, Tap Richards, Jake Norton, Andy Politz and Conrad Anker.
EDMUND HILLARY – First person to climb Everest in 1953
“People used to think it was impossible to reach the peak of Everest”, this statement of Sir Edmund Hillary represents the scenario of Everest expedition at that time.
Many people tried climbing Mt. Everest before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa but nobody ever reached the top. The honour of creating history by reaching the top of the world’s highest mountain goes to Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa of Nepal.
Born on July 20, 1919 in New Zealand, Edmund Hillary grew up in Aukland and was a beekeeper by profession. But his attraction towards mountain was indescribable. He climbed the Alps of New Zealand at a mere age of 20. After the successful climbing of the Alps, he submerged into the mountaineering field.
A matter of coincident, the successful expedition of Mt. Everest was announced just before the eve of coronation of Her Majesty’s Queen Elizabeth the 2nd and Hillary was honoured by the Queen herself when he returned to England.
As the years passed he became more serious towards the welfare of Nepali citizens. During 1960s, he returned to Nepal many times for the development of Nepali Community. Many clinics, hospitals and schools were established in the Khumbu area through his personal effort. He was worried about the degrading environment in the Everest region. Thus Hillary used his great prestige to persuade the government of New Zealand to provide the necessary aid for the establishment of Sagarmatha National Park.
After the successful Everest expedition, Hillary and Sir John Hunt published their account of the expedition, The Ascent of Everest. The book was published in the U.S as The Conquest of Everest.
TENZING NORGAY SHERPA – Climbed Everest with Edmund in 1953
Tenzing Norgay Sherpa was born in Thame, Nepal on 1914.
At the age of 18 he left for Darjeeling to join the Everest Expedition team. At that time Nepal wasn’t opened to foreigners.
Tenzing made his first attempt at the age of 19 in 1935. Impressed with his climbing skills, he was included in the British team in 1936 and 1938 but it was during this time that the World War II broke out, which affected the expedition business. Then he returned back to Darjeeling where he scaled Nanda Devi, Tiricha and Nanga Parbat.
After the Second World War, Nepal opened its door to foreigners. Tenzing went with Swiss Expedition team in 1952 and this time he was able to reach the height of 28,360ft.
Finally on 29th May 1953, Tenzing and Edmund Hillary together scaled Mt. Everest and created the history. After the successfull ascent Hillary was decorated with the title of “Sir”. Tenzing received a proposal of Indian citizenship which he accepted instantly and became an Indian National. Tenzing accepted the postition of first Field Director of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute where he worked for about 22 years. In 1979, he wrote an autobiography and named it “Man of Everest. Tenzing died on May 9, 1986.
JUNKO TABEI – First woman to climb Everest
Junko Tabei of Japan, became the first woman ever to climb Mt. Everest. Tabei, not taller than 5ft, climbed the Everest from the South-eastern turn on May 16, 1975 who was leading the Japanese Woman Everest Expedition team. At the time of the expedition she was already a mother of two.
“I was attracted towards the mountain since the first time I climbed Mt. Nasu with my teacher at the age of 10” says, Junko Tabei during her visit to Nepal for the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Mt. Everest Conquest.
REINHOLD MESSNER – First person to climb all 8000+ peaks
It was August 20, 1980 when Reinhold Messner, an Italian legendary mountaineer had just accomplished what would be regarded as the greatest climbing feat of the modern age. He had conquered Everest alone without using bottled oxygen. “I am standing on the highest point on Earth… I still don’t know how I have made it but I know that I can’t do any more… I am not only as heavy as a corpse, I am incapable of taking anything in. I cannot distinguish above and below.” Messner recalled the experience vividly.
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