> 29 May 1953: Hillary and Tenzing reach the summit
> Hillary and the Sherpas
dimarts, 15 de gener de 2008
Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the legends of mountaineering, died on 11 January at the age of 88. Together with the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, Hillary was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain. The pair achieved the feat on 29 May 1953, more than half a century ago.
Since then, a number of other mountaineers have also made it to the top of Everest, but this in no way detracts from the extraordinary achievement of Hillary and Tenzing. We should remember that the equipment used by mountaineers at the time was not anywhere near as sophisticated as that used today. Nor was it known then whether it was even possible for Man to reach the top of Everest.
Born in Auckland (New Zealand) in 1919 Edmund Hillary, the son of a beekeeper, was passionate about mountaineering from a young age. After the Second World War (1939-1945), in which Hillary fought as a pilot, he decided to try his luck in the Himalayas, the mountain range that is home to the world's highest mountains.
In 1953, he joined the expedition led by the Englishman Colonel John Hunt. It was with that expedition that Hillary reached the summit of Everest. The achievement catapulted Hillary (and Tenzing) to international fame. But Hillary kept his feet on the ground and fame did not prevent him from always behaving with modesty.
Of slight build and frail in appearance, Hillary was an adventurer from head to toe. After the Himalayas, his adventurous spirit took him to the Antarctic and, in 1958, he reached the South Pole.
29 May 1953: Hillary and Tenzing reach the summit
+ Hillary and Norgay reached the summit at 11:30 a.m.
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made it to the Everest summit at 11:30 a.m. on 29 May 1953 and, in so doing, brought to an end the conquest of Everest, begun some thirty years before when the first expeditions to Everest set off in 1920. Overjoyed, the two climbers shook hands and hugged each other. Hillary took a number of photographs, including one of Norgay, which has since become very famous. On account of the lack of oxygen, the two began their descent after 15 minutes at the summit. The first member of the expedition team they met was George Lowe, to whom Hillary said: 'Well, George, we've knocked the bastard off'; words that reflected, more than anything else, the magnitude of the achievement.
Hillary and the Sherpas
+ Hillary played an active role in improving life for the Sherpas.
The success of expeditions to the Himalayas has always been due to the role played by the Sherpas, a people of Nepal, who are very accustomed to hardship and to the high altitudes of the Himalayas. After conquering Everest, Hillary decided to play an active role in improving life for the Sherpas, a very hospitable Buddhist people whose roots lie in Tibet. The result was the foundation of the Himalayan Trust, which became involved in various humanitarian activities such as building schools, hospitals and bridges and providing health service. For his mountaineering achievement and for his contribution to the Sherpas, Hillary was made an honorary citizen of Nepal in 2003 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of his Everest ascent.
+ Mount Everest rises along the Himalayan border between Tibet and Nepal.
Standing 8,850 metres high, Mount Everest (in Tibetan, Chomolungma, meaning: Goddess Mother of the World) rises imposingly along the Himalayan border between Tibet and Nepal. Today, more than 50 years after Hillary and Tenzing's successful ascent, Everest is popular with tourists, a factor that has helped the economic development of those living in the region but also one that has brought a threat to environmental balance on account of the large amount of waste that has accumulated. Hillary himself was critical of this, lamenting the lack of adventurism of many who head for the mountain.
> Edmund Hillary i Tenzing Norgay, dos herois del segle XX.
> Norgay, fotografiat per Hillary al cim de l'Everest.
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