May 29, 2003
Marked The 50th Anniversary Of The First Ascent Of Everest.


Click To See Larger Pictures

05-29) 08:00 PDT KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) --

Nepal's royal family joined mountaineers from around the world in Katmandu on Thursday to celebrate Sir Edmund Hillary and recall his Sherpa partner, Tenzing Norgay, on the 50th anniversary of their conquest of Mount Everest. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest from Nepal via the Western Cwm and South Col. They were part of the British team led by John Hunt (later Lord Hunt). Sir John Hunt, Charles Evans and Tom Bourdillon, were the first to reach the South Summit.

Nepal announced that it would grant Hillary, a native of New Zealand, honorary citizenship for his service to the Sherpa community, which Norgay's descendants say has been helped and hurt by the boom in adventure travel to Everest.

"On the one hand, it has ushered in a better standard of living than we could have ever imagined," Tashin Tenzing, a grandson of the guide, wrote in an op-ed piece in The New York Times. "But life for Sherpas has become increasingly complicated."

Norgay, who accompanied Hillary to the summit of the world's tallest mountain, died 17 years ago.

His son, Jamling Norgay, attended the celebrations for "a day in history where my father and Sir Edmund Hillary made the climb of this formidable mountain, taking us humans a step further into the spirit of adventure."

Hillary and Tenzing Norgay spent 15 minutes atop the 29,035-foot summit on May 29, 1953 -- an achievement that was celebrated this week with parades, exhibitions and parties

Everest anniversary logo from the Mount Everest Foundation

tenzing norgay

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    May 29, 2003

    Thursday is the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepali Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

    Height: 8,850 meters (29,035 feet). Last measured on May 5, 1999, by the National Geographic Society and Boston’s Museum of Science using satellite technology. Nepal uses old height, 8,848 meters (29,028 feet), saying it needs to analyze the 1999 data.

    Location: Straddling the Himalayan border between Nepal and China’s Tibet.

    Name: In 1852, triangulations taken from outside Nepal – which was closed to foreigners until 1949 – by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India processed and “Peak XV” was declared the highest mountain in the world. In 1865, Peak XV was named after a former Survey chief, Sir George Everest (pronounced eve-rest). Nepalis call the mountain Sagarmatha, literally “head of the ocean,” or “head of the sea.” Tibetans call it Chomolungma, or Jomolangma, after the goddess Jomo Miyolangsangma.

    Tenzing: Although a Nepali Sherpa, Tenzing lived in the Indian mountain town of Darjeeling for years battling for a place on Everest expeditions and, rejecting Nepal’s offers, accepted an Indian passport, rather than a Nepali one.

    Click To See A Larger Photo


    Major routes
    Major routes: From Nepal: Southeast Ridge (the traditional South Col route); West Ridge; Southwest Face; South Pillar. From Tibet: North Col-North Ridge; North Face; East Face; Northeast Ridge; East Ridge.

    Summaries: More than 1,200 people from 63 countries, including 75 women – 211, including six women, more than once. The largest number of climbers, 258, come from Nepal, followed by 160 from the United States. These figures do not include the current season, during which several more climbers have already reached the summit.

    Tragedy: 175 people have died on Mount Everest, 42 while descending after reaching the summit. Many of the bodies remain on the mountain.

    Mystery: There is still speculation Hillary and Tenzing were not the first.
    In 1924, British climbers George Mallory and Sandy Irvine left their staging camp at 8,138 meters (26,700 feet) on the Tibetan side for an assault on the summit.
    They were last seen making good progress and the mystery of whether they died on the way to the summit or on their way back from it has never been conclusively solved, though most evidence suggests they never reached the top. Mallory’s body was found in 1999 at 8,138 meters. But his camera and Irvine’s body remain missing. In his autobiography, Hillary said he thought of Mallory and Irvine almost as soon as he reached the summit.
    “With little hope, I looked around for some sign that they had reached the summit, but could see nothing,” he wrote.
    San Francisco Chronolical


    Costly: Nepal charges between $25,000 for a permit for one climber and $70,000 for seven. China charges a registration fee of $5,000 for a team of 10 or fewer and $500 per climber for groups over 10. Most climbers pay tens of thousands of dollars more for permits for satellite phones, permits to enter the national park and pass through the Khumbu Icefall, transport, support staff, food, oxygen, Buddhist rituals and camping and climbing gear.

    Expeditions: The average expedition from the Nepali side takes about two-and-a-half months, including the trek to base camp at 5,350 meters (17,550 feet), several acclimatization climbs to higher camps and back to base, the summit and the descent. Each team consists of more than 100 people, normally seven climbers, plus Sherpa guides, porters, cooks and other staff.

    From ChannelOne Communication

    Date Posted: May 30, 2003

    KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- From modest Sherpas to the royal family, Nepal celebrated the 50th anniversary of the conquest of Mount Everest on Thursday, honoring Sir Edmund Hillary, who with his late Sherpa partner, Tenzing Norgay, made the climb that inspired a generation to push the limits of human endurance.

    Nepal granted Hillary honorary citizenship for his five decades of service to the Sherpa community. He has helped build schools, hospitals, and an airfield that has opened the once pristine mountain to hundreds of climbers each year and brought wealth to Sherpa communities.

    Norgay died 17 years ago. His son, Jamling Norgay, told 225 others who have scaled Everest that they were celebrating "a day in history where my father and Sir Edmund Hillary made the climb of this formidable mountain, taking us humans a step further into the spirit of adventure."

    About 1,300 people have climbed the world's highest peak, either from the Nepal or Tibet side, and all those still living were invited to the weeklong party that Nepal's government hopes will spur tourism.

    Hillary, an 83-year-old former beekeeper from New Zealand, said he declined a chance to celebrate the anniversary in London with Queen Elizabeth II even though the British government organized the 1953 expedition. Instead, he shared a celebratory dinner with his Sherpa friends after a tea party hosted by Nepal's King Gyanendra and Queen Komal.

    Teodor Tulpan, who led Romania's first expedition to the summit on May 20, patted his heart and said it was emotional being in the same room as Hillary, but said he was saddened at the sight of frozen corpses of mountaineers who died trying to reach the 29,035-foot summit. The risk of trying to bring bodies down is too great and there is no soil in which to bury them.

    "I was feeling very bad because we were seeing the dead bodies of people," he said. About 175 people have died trying to reach the summit.

    Prime Minister Lokander Bahadur Chand recalled "those brave climbers who lost their lives" as he honored a parade of cheering, smiling mountaineers. They waved, filmed each other with video cameras, signed autograph books and flashed their anniversary medals to news cameras.

    Hillary and some older pioneers, including Junko Tabei of Japan, the first woman to climb Everest, urged the government to restrict the number of people climbing Everest at one time. They said that people lining up to climb fixed ropes is not real mountaineering, and could be dangerous on the unpredictable mountain.

    A record 22 expeditions went up the mountain this season, and the government, which collects $75,000 per group, has no plans to cut back. The Sherpas who live on whatever they earn during the few weeks each year when Everest can be climbed also oppose restrictions.

    For years, Sherpas have been called the unsung heroes of Himalayan climbing, but they have gained more attention recently. More than half of those honored Thursday were Sherpas.

    © 2003 Associated Press.
    All rights reserved.

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    It's also the 40th Anniversary of the First American Ascent
    In May 1963 a National Geographic Society-sponsored expedition put American climbers on top of Mount Everest for the first time. Among them was Geographic photographer Barry C. Bishop.
    In the following excerpts adapted from the October 1963 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, Bishop recounts his harrowing descent with ropemate Lute Jerstad.
    How We Climbed Everest
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    ‘We seek blessings when we climb mountains’ Jim Whittaker & Nawang Gombu
    Jim Whittaker was the first American to climb Mount Everest while Nawang Gombu was the first man to reach the peak twice. On their way to attend the American Himalayan Foundation function on June 10 in San Francisco, they were in Darjeeling and talked to Amitava Banerjee.


    Welcome Nepal
    Everest News
    Nepal celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest Thursday by making Sir Edmund Hillary, the man who “knocked the bastard off,” an honorary citizen.
    Chopper crashes near Everest camp
    Two people died when a helicopter crashed near Mount Everest base camp Wednesday, marring celebrations on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of the mountain.
    Some pioneers seek ‘rest’ for Everest
    Sir Edmund Hillary and other Mount Everest pioneers suggested Tuesday that the world’s tallest peak deserves a rest after a half century of more than 1,300 climbers scaling its slopes.
    Newsweek: The demystifying of Mount Everest
    The conquest of Everest was supposed to ‘elevate the human spirit.’ What else it’s elevated, the cleanup crews can tell.
    The British obsession over Everest
    The conquest of Mount Everest had become a British obsession, and achieving it seemed to herald the dawn of better times for a nation shedding an empire and shaking off postwar austerity.
    Sherpa guides set Everest records
    A Sherpa who has climbed Mount Everest more than anyone else did it again Monday, and another broke the speed record with an 11-hour sprint to the top.

    MSNBC web site.
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    Royal Geographical Society
    National Geographical Society


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