Conquest of Everest - May 29 - Let us remember Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay

29th May,1963. Edmund Hillary and Temzing Norgay, conquest of Everest. Pinrest 

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Mt. Everest

May 29th of this year marks the 67th anniversary of the successful climbing of Mt. Everest, the tallest peak in the world. Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first  humans to stand atop the roof of the world for nearly 15 minutes. Hillary was the one who steeped on the summit first followed by Tenzing;  it was 11.30 am. Humans' first foot prints were recorded on the tallest peak.  They achieved this great and daring feat at a time when  there was inadequate quality  mountaineering accessories  available to the prospective climbers. Further, high-altitude mountaineering techniques were not  well developed at that point of time. Even the camping gears were not up to the standard to meet the  sudden blizzard and sub-zero weather conditions on the upper levels.

Hillary and Tenzing were part of the ninth British expedition to Everest that was led by John Hunt. The expedition set up base camp in March 1953 and the  final camp  up at the South Col where the weather conditions would change quickly. Hunt wanted both  Hillary and Norgay to attempt the summit on May 26, however, they had to  delay it by two days because of high chilly winds and snow fall.  Weather being favorable, the duo began their assault on May 28 and   pitched the tent at 8,500 metre (27,900 feet) on May 28.

In the Everest climb, via the Nepal side  the most dangerous and  technically difficult  phase is that of crossing the vertical rock face - 29 foot (12 meter) tall cliff which is now called the "Hillary Step". It was located on the southeast ridge, halfway between the "South Summit" and the true summit. Both Hillart and Tenzing carefully  crossed the vertical rock face. The news broke around the world on June 2, the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, and Britons hailed it as a good omen for their country’s future. Afterwards, Hillary and Hunt were knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, while Norgay received the George Medal for his efforts on the expedition.   After his successful assault on  Everest, Sir Edmund summited ten other tall Himalayan peaks, led an expedition to the South Pole, and traveled the length of the Ganges (Ganga river)

Located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas, Mount Everest  had been a mystery to the climbers before 1963. Earlier, George Mallory and his associate Andrew Irwin, as part of 3rd Everest expedition  were almost close to the summit. In a jiff, weather conditions drastically changed and both experienced  and ace British climbers disappeared from the place where they had stood before. Reason: could be sudden heavy chilly winds.  Mallory' fairly preserved body was found on the high slope of Everest in 1999. Whether he and Irvine made it to the top in 1924 is still a mystery.

Named the mountain after Sir George Everest, who  served as Surveyor General of India from 1830 to 1843 and who conducted the first Trigonometric Survey of  India,  two-thirds of the way to the peak cover the air of the earth’s atmosphere–that is the cruising altitude of jet airliners. At much higher levels above the death zone, only very thin layer of oxygen is available.

Sir Edmund Hillary: ace mountain climber

Both Hillary, the New Zealander and Norgay, a Nepalese achieved something  great decades ago which tested man's physical  limits of endurance  in the most difficult terrain with poor oxygen, handicapped by lack of good mountaineering gears.  It reminds me of George Mallory's reply to a journalist: why do  you want  to climb Everest? came the reply,  “Because it’s there.”