First Everest Climb & Descent 60 Years Ago Today

Small town features a modest walkway honoring New Zealander Edmund Hillary

EverestSixty years ago today, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first people to climb to the summit of Mt. Everest and return alive. It took until June 2 for the world to find out in time for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Runners sped to Namche Bazaar so the news could be transmitted by radio to Kathmandu and telegraphed from there to London and from there to the world. Since then hundreds, maybe thousands of people have accomplished the same feat — some more than once –and dozens to have perished in the attempt. Now it takes no time at all for the word to get out, good or bad.

Just this week, 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura summited and later said that he almost died on the way down, and Russia’s Valery Rozov, 48, wore a special wing suit to BASE jump from the world’s highest peak. Neither of the first ascenders lived to see some of these improbable feats. I wonder what they might make of them.

SONY DSCTributes large and modest were heaped on the pair over the years. We came upon one in the town of Otorohanga on New Zealand’s North Island, en route from Tongariro National Park to Auckland. An alleyway between the main street and a parking lot had been turned into a covered arcade called the Ed Hillary Walkway, lined with photos of Hillary and other Kiwiana behind glass.

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