Though I missed the actual date of the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest - May 29th - I wanted to acknowledge this historic accomplishment. (Though in my defense I am not that far off the date of the announcement of the event as news was delayed until June 2nd so as coincide with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II)
What inspired me to study and ultimately teach geography and history were the stories of those early explorers and adventurers that sought to fill in the "white spaces on the map." These tales of tragedy and triumph have always fascinated me; none more than the ascent of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in May 1953.
Given the challenges of the time, and the numbers who had died in previous assaults on the mountain, what Hillary and Tenzing accomplished is truly amazing. I always think of the tragic events of 1996 as recorded by Jon Krakauer in his book "Into Thin Air" whenever I consider the 1953 expedition. Everest can be unforgiving, and the fact that Tenzing and Hillary were able to summit, sans modern climbing gear, fixed ropes, and an established route, is a tremendous feat.
The Telegraph in the UK has put together a wonderful interactive webpage to explore. Click on the Telegraph icon below to access the site:
Everest, or Chomolungma - "the abode of the gods"
Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary 1953
The Route to the Summit
On top of the World