Sixty years ago today, the last place on Earth where no man had gone, Mount Everest, roof of the world, finally received visitors. Two men, backed by a team of 400, conquered the more than 8,800-metre peak: Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, in 1953.
Although Hillary died in 2008 and Tenzing in 1986, Nepal has been paying them homage. Hillary’s granddaughter and Tenzing’s grandson and Kancha Sherpa, last surviving member of the 1953 expedition, were feted in the streets of Kathmandu.
Tashi Tenzing said: “There were two men who came from humble beginnings; one was a beekeeper from New Zealand and one of the men, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, was born in the shadows of Everest.”
Hillary took photo of Tenzing at the top. Tenzing said that when he offered to take one of Hillary, he declined. Their names would go down in history.
The New Zealander, who had flown as a World War Two pilot, and the Nepalese sherpa, needed all their strength.
Hillary said in an interview soon afterwards: “I was leading down the ice fall and when I was crossing a crevasse a large lump of ice gave way – on which I was standing. I set off down the crevasse. Tenzing, who was following, had the rope tight in a very short time and pulled me up so I didn’t go very far.”
Since then, more than 3,500 people have climbed Everest, according to the Nepalese government. Two hundred and thirty of them died trying. The successful ones include an 80-year-old Japanese man and a Saudi woman.