Thursday 30 May 2013

The Everest Conspiracy

Yesterday marked the sixtieth anniversary of the successful ascent of Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain. See: At 29,035 feet, a climber near the summit faces danger from altitude sickness and cold as well as the perils of climbing itself. The mountain's summit was reached for the first time on May the 29th 1953 by two men, A New Zealander called Sir Edmund Hillary and a native from the local Sherpa culture, Tenzing Norgay. However this stirring tale has a dark secret, according to Jan van Helsing in his book paradoxically marketed under the title Don't Touch this Book! However, despite it being a dark secret I hope that it's true because it has a heartwarming conclusion.

Most first ascents of mountains have a single name of the first climber to step onto the summit. Even in a team of climbers, one individual will usually be selected to make the historic first footprint on the top. Everest is different because there are two names, both Hillary's and Norgay's. The two climbers, who were of course the only witnesses to the feat, held hands and walked up onto the very top of the world's highest mountain together. However when they returned to base camp, the expedition management gave Norgay a form to sign which they told him was just some formalities to do with insurance or tax etc. Norgay signed it. The problem was, that's not what the form said. What it really was, was a witness statement declaring something along the lines of: "I, Tenzing Norgay, saw Edmund Hillary step up onto the summit of Mount Everest first, and I only followed him up a few moments later." Norgay unfortunately could not read English; he had been tricked by people who, for whatever reason, wanted Hillary to be recorded as the sole first climber. All that the fraudsters now needed was Hillary's cooperation. Surely Edmund Hillary would have been quite happy not to have to share the glory and to claim that historic place for himself alone... wouldn't he? No. To his great credit, Hillary refused to betray his friend. He joined Norgay is exposing the expedition management's scam and to this day, sixty years later, the highest point on the Earth's surface still has two names next to its entry in the mightiest of human endeavours.


the junglesurfer said...

Might be more might be a total hoax hard to breathe past 20 000 feet

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

What is NOT a hoax, JS?