Tenzing Norgay & Sir Edmund Hillary
Courage and comradeship took them to the greatest heights
By George Band
A few more whacks of the ice ax, the last weary steps, and they were on top of the world. On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, on the summit of Mt. Everest, embraced and thumped each other on the back until they were almost breathless. Then Hillary took the iconic photograph of Tenzing holding his ice ax aloft with the flags of the United Nations, Britain, Nepal and India. Tenzing looked down to the east, to the Kharta and Kama Valleys, where he was born and spent the first years of his life herding yaks with his father. He could see the monasteries, the rivers and the forests of his youth.Tenzing had every reason to have his head turned by the godlike adulation he received after the climb.
But his innate strength of character, and his flashing smile, pulled him through. He then devoted years to teaching at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, before dying in 1986 at 74—a good age for a sherpa. Hillary, the New Zealand beekeeper and university dropout, went on to grace the New Zealand $5 bill, and he became an unlikely but ideal diplomat as his nation's High Commissioner to India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan. But perhaps the achievement that has given him the greatest satisfaction is his work in creating and running his Himalayan Trust, which by building schools and hospitals, and training teachers, has helped to improve the lives of his friends the sherpas in their remote homeland in northeast Nepal.
Nowadays, people ask me if I was a member of the Hillary expedition. They forget the brilliant leadership of John Hunt, whose military training and climbing experience equipped him admirably for planning such a major expedition. And they forget the first assault pair, Charles Evans and Tom Bourdillon, who had reached Everest's South Summit three days before the triumph. They paved the way for Hillary and Tenzing's ultimate success; the conquest of Everest was truly a great team effort.
The youngest member of the 1953 Everest expedition, George Band wrote Everest: 50 Years on Top of the World
Monday, 13 December 2010
Posted by Krajend at 09:54