The Online Library of Knowledge


Conquest of Everest

Hillary and Tenzing, the first men to climb EverestHillary and Tenzing, the first men to climb Everest In 1953 a British and Commonwealth expedition led by Colonel John Hunt set out to climb Mount Everest. Two men reached the South Summit, about two hours' climb from the true summit, but they had to return. Colonel Hunt chose two others to make a second attempt. They were Edmund Hillary, a New Zealander, and Tenzing Norgay. Tenzing was a Sherpa, one of the peoples who live in mountainous Nepal. On 29th May 1953, they reached the top. Worried that their oxygen might run out, they stayed only 15 minutes. After taking photographs to prove they had made it, they made their way, weary but triumphant, back down the mountain.

The challenge

The summit of Mount Everest, in the HimalayasThe summit of Mount Everest, in the HimalayasPeople first began climbing mountains for sport about 200 years ago, but not until the 20th century did anyone try to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world at 8848 metres (29,029 feet). Tibetan people call Everest Qomolangma, which means "Mother Goddess of the World". At its summit, gales blow at more than 150 kilometres an hour (90 miles an hour) and the air is so thin that most climbers take oxygen tanks. Two British mountaineers, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, may have got there in 1924. They were last seen 250 metres (820 feet) from the top—but then they disappeared.

The first and only blind person to reach the summit was American Erik Weihenmayer, in 2001. He is also one of just a few hundred people who have climbed the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on seven continents.

© 2020 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile