Disputes About the First Summit of Mount Everest
Mount Everest, standing at an intimidating height of 8,848.86 meters (29,031.7 feet), is the world’s highest mountain peak above sea level. Located in the Himalayas, Mount Everest attracts hordes of mountaineers from all over the globe. Official records attribute the first successful summit to Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on 29th May 1953. However, this achievement has been shrouded in controversy for ages. There have been numerous disputes about the actual identity of the first person to summit the scenic but deadly peak of Mount Everest.
The Official Title Holders
Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand mountaineer, and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa of Nepal, collectively reached Mount Everest’s summit as part of the British Everest Expedition led by Colonel John Hunt. Both Hillary and Norgay were lauded globally, receiving knighthoods from the British Crown.
Disputes Over the First Successful Summit
The successful summit by Hillary and Norgay is not without its fair share of controversies. One such dispute is the 1924 mountaineering attempt by George Mallory and Andrew Irvine. Mallory and Irvine were part of the 1924 British Mount Everest Expedition. They were last seen high on the mountain on 8th June 1924, approximately 250 meters short of the summit. The duo was seen ‘going strong for the top’, but never returned.
The Mystery of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine
The speculation that Mallory and Irvine might have preceded Hillary and Norgay in reaching the summit has been fueled by various factors. In 1999, ‘Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition’ discovered George Mallory’s body on the north face of Everest. Among the items found with the body were personal belongings but missing was a picture of Mallory’s wife, which he had pledged to place on the summit. The discovery has led to much conjecture that the duo might have made it to the summit. However, no substantial evidence has been found to back these claims.
Other Controversial Claims
Aside from the story of Mallory and Irvine, numerous other climbers claim to have reached the summit before 1953. Claims have been made by participants in the British expeditions of the early 1920s and by Maurice Wilson in 1934. Further controversial ascents have been mentioned, including some by unnamed Tibetan monks in early times. Despite the array of claimants, without substantial evidence, the first successful summit continues to be credited to Hillary and Norgay.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who were the first people to climb Mount Everest?
The official record attributes the first successful summit of Mount Everest to Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on 29th May 1953.
2. Who was George Mallory?
George Mallory was a British mountaineer who took part in the early 20th century British Mount Everest expeditions. His final and fatal attempt was in 1924 with his partner, Andrew Irvine. They disappeared in the final approach to Everest’s summit and were last seen merely 250 meters away from the pinnacle.
3. Has anyone found evidence of Mallory and Irvine’s summit?
Though George Mallory’s body was discovered in 1999 by the ‘Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition,’ no evidence like photographs or summit artifacts was found that could definitively prove they reached the summit.
4. Who are some of the other disputed claimants of the first ascent?
Various early 20th century British expedition members and adventurer Maurice Wilson have made claims to the first ascent. Further alleged ascents include some by unnamed Tibetan monks.
5. What is the most accepted version of who summited Mount Everest first?
The most widely accepted and recognized version is that Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa, were the first to summit Mount Everest, accomplishing this feat on 29th May 1953.