Everest’s 60th anniversary celebrations
Sixty years ago today Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay stood atop Everest – the first men ever to reach the summit at 8,848m (29,000ft), on 29 May 1953. A great feat of courage and endurance, it was announced to the world on the day of the Queen’s Coronation (2 June 1953).
Celebrations are being held in Nepal to mark the 60th anniversary, including a high-altitude marathon and a clean-up at the mountain’s base camp. Among those taking part in the celebrations in Kathmandu is one of the last surviving members of the original 1953 expedition, Kanchha Sherpa.
Since Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summited back in 1953, more than 4,500 people have followed in their footsteps to the top of the world’s highest peak. It is thought that a further 235 people have perished in their attempts. Many of their bodies remain on the mountain.
Already this year, over 500 people have scaled the mountain including 146 who reached the summit last Sunday, and 94 more the following day!
The mountain has become surprisingly congested. Currently up to 35 expeditions are organised up the mountain each year, with a possible ‘fair-weather’ climbing window of just a few weeks centred on May.
Last year we featured here the world’s highest traffic jam, as more than 250 climbers queued to summit the mountain in a 48-hour stretch of good weather, despite warnings of poetntially deadly bottlenecks in the ‘death zone’ (above 8,000m). The situation appears little different this year.
Nepal now says that it wants to restrict the numbers of climbers allowed to scale Mount Everest. They are considering placing a limit on the number of climbers allowed to climb.
Sherpa Tenzing Norgay’s son, Jamling Tenzing Norgay, commented to the BBC that his father would not have been happy about the impact of commercialisation and overcrowding, although he would have liked the opportunities tourism and mountaineering was providing for the Sherpa community.
In the meantime, more and more mountaineers continue to climb the world’s highest mountain, and the spirit of Sherpa Tensing Norgay and Edmund Hillary lives on in each of them.
For more on the story, including some original film footage of Hillary and Tensing Norgay, see this BBC link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22710737
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