Mount Everest Expedition History

A history of Climbing Everest

The exploration of the Everest region and attempts to reach its summit began long before the first successful ascent, made by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953. For a long time the British colonial administration did not give permission for expeditions to the Everest region – the first such expedition did not take place until 1921. Initially attempts to reach the summit were made from the north, from the side of Tibet. However, success was achieved to the south – from the side of Nepal, through the Khumbu Icefall. For the first time this route was chosen by an expedition in 1950 under the leadership of an American, C.S. Hauston, after Nepal opened its borders to foreign expeditions in 1950.

The first time Europeans saw Everest was in 1849. They were members of an English surveying expedition led by George Everest. The peak was mapped and designated as “Peak XV” and in 1965 was named after the discoverer (Sir George Everest himself was against it). The original names of the peak: Tibetan – Jomolungma (Chomo Lungmo) and Nepalese – Sagarmatha. Its height (originally – 8839 meters), was calculated a few years later – and it turned out that this is the highest peak on Earth. Expedition to Everest was planned in the century before last by Julius Behrens (1827-1888), an Englishman, obviously inspired by the successful ascent of Mont Blanc. The idea remained unrealized.

The first man to conquer Mount Everest

Although Edmund Hillary was the first man to summit the world, there had been many attempts to summit Everest long before him. Back in the twenties, a special expedition of the newly formed Everest Committee worked out the best routes for the ascent. Not surprisingly, the members of this expedition were the first to set foot on the top of the “sacred mountain,” as Everest was to the locals. And yet two very different men, Sir Edmund Hillary and the Nepalese mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, together made the first successful ascent of the summit from the south side and were finally able to find themselves where no man had ever set foot before.

In 1953, when this remarkable event finally took place, China closed Everest to any visits and the world community allowed no more than one expedition per year. In freezing temperatures, constantly tormented by strong gusts of wind, Tenzing and Hillary, despite having to stay in one place for several days at a time, were still able to conquer the highest point of the planet. Edmund Hillary dedicated his achievement to the coronation of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, and it was the best gift to mark the momentous occasion in Britain. Although Hillary and Tenzing spent only 15 minutes at the top of the mountain, those 15 minutes today are comparable only to the first steps on the moon.

Articles by: Minta Courtney
Images by: Rodney Christian

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