Who First Climbed Mount Everest?
For centuries, Mount Everest has been an emblem of nature’s grandeur and a testament to the audacity of the human spirit. This behemoth, nestled in the Himalayan range, stands as the highest peak on earth’s surface. The majesty of Mount Everest has led to an unending influx of adventurers and mountaineers from all over the world, keen to conquer its formidable expanse. However, the prestigious title for being the first to ascend the summit goes to none other than Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal.
The Historic Climb of Hillary and Norgay
On May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made history when they became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. The duo was part of the ninth British expedition to Mount Everest, organized and financed by the spoils of the British Empire and led by Colonel John Hunt.
The successful expedition followed a route through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall, Western Cwm, up the Lhotse Face, over the Geneva Spur, ascending the South Col, and finally ascending the southeast ridge to the summit. Tenzing and Hillary reached the summit at 11:30 local time. As proof of their achievement, they left a cross and a few sweets and biscuits buried in the snow before descending.
The Aftermath of the Pioneer Climb
The ascent of Hillary and Tenzing altered perceptions of what was possible in mountaineering. They became instant global celebrities, with their images splashed across newspapers worldwide, and they were hailed as heroes in their respective countries.
Their successful climb paved the way for numerous other mountaineers. Over the years, the success rate of climbing Everest has improved, partly due to advancements in mountaineering gear and weather predicting technology, but also because Hillary and Tenzing proved it was possible.
The names Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay are eternally etched in mountaineering lore, their determination, resilience, and pioneering spirit embodying the very essence of human courage and exploration. To this day, the triumph of their remarkable feat adds a layer of historical allure to the formidable allure of Mount Everest.
1. Who got the credit for reaching Mount Everest’s summit first?
There has been not a fair bit of controversy about who stepped onto the summit first between Hillary and Norgay. However, it is generally accepted that they reached the summit together, and both climbers have also endorsed this mutual achievement.
2. Did Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary use oxygen tanks?
Yes, just like most climbers who attempt to conquer Mount Everest, Hillary and Norgay used supplementary oxygen systems to help them cope with the thin air in the high-altitude environment.
3. How long did Hillary and Norgay stay at the summit?
After their arduous and dangerous climb, Hillary and Norgay only spent about 15 minutes at the summit. They needed to descend quickly to avoid the risks associated with high-altitude exposure.
4. Are there other claims of earlier successful ascents?
Yes, there have been several assertions of successful ascents before 1953, including those of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine in 1924. However, none of these have been proven, making Hillary and Tenzing the first confirmed climbers to reach the summit.
5. What was the role of the British Empire in the first successful climb?
The first successful climb was part of a British Expedition and received significant financial support and organization from the British Empire. This expedition’s success is a prime example of the role played by national and colonial ties in the era of exploration.