||Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to stand on the summit of Mount Everest. |
He describes his ascent:
"Tenzing called it the roar of a thousand tigers. Hour after hour it came whining and screeching in an unrelenting stream from the west with such ferocity it set the canvas of our small Pyramid tent cracking like a rifle range. We were 25.800 feet up on the South Col, a desolate saddle between the upper slopes of Everest and Lhotse. Rather than easing off, the gale grew more violent the longer it went on. I began to fear that our heaving and thrashing shelter must surely be wrenched from its mooring, leaving us exposed and unprotected amongst the ice and boulders. I was braced between Tenzing Norgay and the tent wall with no room to stretch out to my full length. Jammed in tight, just turning over was difficult and resulted in a spasm of panting. The thudding canvas beat constantly against my ribs and whenever my head touched the fabric my brain felt like it had been placed under a pneumatic drill."
And a few hours later…
"We didn’t waste any time. I started cutting steps again, seeking now rather anxiously for signs of the summit. We seemed to go on forever, tired now and moving rather slowly. In the distance I could see the barren plateau of Tibet. I looked up to the right and there was a rounded snowy dome.
It must be the summit!
We drew closer together as Tenzing brought in the slack on the rope. I continued cutting a line of steps upwards. Next moment I had moved onto a flattish exposed area of snow with nothing but space in every direction.
Tenzing quickly joined me and we looked around in wonder. To our immense satisfaction, we realised we had reached the top of the world!
It was 11.30 a.m. on 29th May 1953."
Sir Edmund Hillary. View from the Summit. Doubleday, 1999.
Excerpts from the first chapter.