International Everest Day: When Tenzing Norgay, Edmund Hillary Scaled Mount Everest 68 Years Ago
History was created on this day 68 years ago when Sherpa Tenzing Norgay of Nepal and Edmund Hillary of New Zealand climbed Mount Everest, 29,029 feet above sea level.
They were part of a British expedition. Mr Norgay and Mr Hillary reached the summit of Mount Everest at 11:30 AM on May 29,1953, but the world came to know of their achievement only on June 2, the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.
And to commemorate their achievement, Nepal decided to celebrate International Everest Day every year on May 29.
The day was observed for the first time in 2008, the year Edmund Hillary died.
On this day, a series of memorial events and processions take place in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and the Everest region. International Everest Day is also a crucial annual event for Nepal’s mountain tourism.
Among the participants in the events are ministers, climbers, tourism entrepreneurs, and government officials. This year, with the fear of novel coronavirus looming large, the celebrations are expected to be low-key.
Mount Everest attracts climbers, including highly experienced mountaineers, every year from across the globe. The British named it Mount Everest after Sir George Everest, a 19th-century British surveyor of South Asia.
There are two main routes mountaineers take to climb the Chomo-Lungma, or “Mother Goddess of the Land,” as the Tibetans call it.
One approaches the summit from the southeast in Nepal, known as the standard route. The other one is from the north in Tibet. On the standard route, it may not pose many climbing challenges but altitude sickness, weather, wind, as well as significant hazards from avalanches and the Khumbu Icefall can make a mountaineer’s life a living hell.
The First Attempt
The year was 1921 and it was none other than a British expedition that attempted scaling Mount Everest the first time.
They trekked almost 645 kilometres across the Tibetan Plateau before a strong storm forced them to abort the trek. However, those who were part of the expedition – among them British explorer and mountaineer, George Leigh Mallory, who was a leading member of early expeditions to Mount Everest -saw what looked like a feasible route up the peak.
Mr. Mallory, when asked by a journalist why he wanted to scale Mount Everest, said: “Because it’s there.”
The 1953 success of the ninth British expedition came after a near-miraculous achievement of a Swiss expedition a year earlier. Raymond Lambert and Mr Norgay, the two climbers, reached 28,210 feet, just below the south Summit, but had to abort their ascent after they fell short of supplies.