Nepal has been celebrating the 61st anniversary of the first conquest of Everest, using the occasion to remember 16 guides killed in an avalanche last month.
New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, became the first climbers to scale the world’s highest mountain on May 29, 1953.
Today’s mountaineers were among several hundred people who held a rally in Kathmandu to commemorate the feat.
Sixty-one years ago there was none of today’s sophisticated equipment.
The expedition didn’t know what lay ahead. Crevasses posed a serious danger.
The rally was led by Kancha Sherpa, the expedition’s lone surviving member.
He only went as far as the last camp – and like most of the others had to walk all the way back down.
There were 15 Sherpa guides and 16 foreign members, he says. “They have all died, and I am the only one still alive, by the grace of God.”
A separate rally was held in memory of last month’s disaster. An avalanche killed 16 guides, mostly Sherpas, just above Everest’s base camp.
They were carrying equipment and tents to set up camps.
Many Sherpas refused to climb after the deaths and Everest’s season was cancelled.