|Sardar Tenzing Norgay, right, and Edmund Hillary|
at the British Embassy in Katmandu, capital of Nepal,
on June 26, 1953.
Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mount Everest. On May 29, 1953 he scaled the highest mountain then known to man-29,000 feet straight up. He was knighted for his efforts.
He even made American Express card commercials because of it! However, until we read his book, High Adventure, we don’t understand that Hillary had to grow into this success.
You see, in 1952 he attempted to climb Mount Everest, but failed. A few weeks later a group in England asked him to address its members. Hillary walked on stage to a thunderous applause. The audience was recognizing an attempt at greatness, but Edmund Hillary saw himself as a failure. He moved away from the microphone and walked to the edge of the platform.
He made a fist and pointed at a picture of the mountain. He said in a loud voice, Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time because you’ve grown all you are going to grow… but I’m still growing!
|Sir Edmund Percival Hillary, KG, ONZ, KBE (20 July 1919 – 11 January 2008)|
In the annals of great heroic exploits, the conquest of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund and Mr. Torgay ranks with the first trek to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen in 1911 and the first nonstop trans-Atlantic flight by Charles A. Lindbergh in 1927.
By 1953, nearly a century after British surveyors had established that the Himalayan peak on the Nepal-Tibet border was the highest point on earth, many climbers considered the mountain all but unconquerable. The summit was 5 ½ vertical miles above sea level (up where today’s jets fly): an otherworldly place of yawning crevasses and 100-mile-an-hour winds, of perpetual cold and air so thin that the human brain and lungs do not function properly. Numerous Everest expeditions had failed, and dozens of experienced mountaineers, including many Sherpas had been killed — buried in avalanches or lost and frozen in sudden storms that roared over the dizzying escarpments.
Sir Edmund and Mr. Norgay were part of a Royal Geographical Society-Alpine Club expedition led by Col. Henry Cecil John Hunt — a siege group that included a dozen climbers, 35 Sherpa guides and 350 porters carrying 18 tons of food and equipment. Their route was the treacherous South Tor, facing toward Nepal.— Robert D. McFadden