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The tale of first ascend to Mount Everest

  • 07-Apr-2016
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When you think about trekking to Everest base camp. the first thing that comes to your mind is obviously the tallest and most famous mountain peak in the world, Mount Everest or Sagarmatha in Nepali and Chomolungma in the Tibetan language. Ever wondered what was the story behind the unprecedented feat achieved by the human race on May 29, 1953, through the deed of two ordinary mountaineers Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay? Let’s find out the story of human glory and achievement that famed the Everest Base Camp to the world.

The expedition wasn’t the first attempt

The 1953 British Mount Everest Expedition was the ninth climbing expedition to attempt the first ascent of the Everest and the first confirmed to have succeeded in the attempt. Following the current Everest base camp route via Jiri, this expedition back then was led by Colonel John Hunt and the success of it was before the world on 2 June 1953, on the day of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

Previous Attempts

The first recorded attempt to ascend Everest was by a British expedition in 1921 from the Tibetan side which trekked 400 miles only to be aborted by a raging storm. The second British expedition was in 1922 where climbers (including George Mallory) reached the height of 27000 feet. In 1924, the third expedition was launched by the British again where the climber reached the height of 28,128 feet, 900 vertical feet short of the summit. Another attempt by Mallory the same year seemingly failed (the success of the expedition remains a mystery) as they were never found alive again. After Tibet was closed to foreigners and Nepal’s opening up to foreigners led to attempts of Everest summit in 1950 and 1951. After the near success of the Swiss expedition in 1952 that included Tenzing Norgay, the British expedition under Colonel Hunt that included New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Tenzing Norgay was the first successful climb to the tallest peak at about 11:30 am on May 29, 1953. This famed region and the series of mountaineering and trekking expeditions including the classic Everest Base Camp Trek started taking place.

What happened on May 29?

Part of the massive expedition to ascend Everest (350 porters, 20 Sherpa climbers, and around 10,000 pounds of baggage to support 10 climbers), Tenzing and Hillary set out for the peak after setting up High Camp at 27,900 feet. After a freezing and sleepless night, the pair reached the South Summit by 9 a.m. and about an hour later they reached on a steep rocky step, some 40 feet high. Wedging himself in a crack in the face, Hillary inched himself up and thereafter started being known as Hillary Step. Hillary threw down a rope and Norgay followed. At about 11:30 a.m., the legendary duo climbed to the top of the world.

Honors and aftermath

Hillary was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of British Empire and Hunt a Knight Bachelor for their efforts. Nepal government gave a reception in honor of the climbers and a purse of ten thousand rupees equivalent to 500 pounds. Hillary and Hunt were given kukris in jeweled sheaths, while the other members received jeweled caskets. The same day, the Government of India announced the creation of a new Gold Medal, an award for civilian gallantry modeled on the George Medal, of which Hunt, Hillary, and Tenzing would be the first recipients. The participants of the expedition were honored by the National Geographic Society, Cullum Geographical Medal of the American Geographical Society, the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society; the Lawrence Medal of the Royal Central Asian Society; and honorary degrees from the universities of Aberdeen, Durham, and London.

The intense speculation about who set the first foot on the summit was cleared by Tenzing Norgay by revealing that Hillary had been first to the summit which was later confirmed by Edmund Hillary himself.

Had the legendary duo not been on top of the peak, the trekking expeditions like Everest Base Camp Trek would have been popular late than when it actually started. Such adventure of extraordinary courage deserves perennial respect.

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