A Brief History of Everest Climbing

Island Peak Climbing
  • Although George Everest was head of the Survey if India form 1823 to 1843, he neither set foot near nor even saw the peak that honors his name.
  • The mountain was first explored by outsiders from the Tibetan side in 1921 after gaining permission to access it from the Dalai Lama. The mountain was first climbed in 1953 by Edmund Percival Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. Two days prior to the monumental feat, a pair of British climber from the same team approached within 90 m/300 feet of the summit but turned back due to lack of oxygen supply. Hillary acknowledged that if the earlier duo had not broken trail and cached supplies, then he and Norgay likely would not have made the summit themselves.
  • The Swiss reached the summit the following year, and the mountain rested undistributed until 1963, when a US team climbed it by the West Ridge and came down the original route, the first traverse of the mountain.
  • 1965, Nawang Gombu Sherpa became the first to summit twice (first in 1963 with a US expedition and in 1965 with an Indian expedition).
  • Junko Tabei of Japan became the first female summiteer in 1975.
  • 1978 Reinhold Messner and Peter Haebeler summited without oxygen.
  • 1980 Yasuo Kato of Japan was the first non-Sherpa to reach the summit more than once (1973 was his first ascent). 1980 Messner summited solo and without oxygen. -1988 Jean-Marc Boivin paraglided from the summit to camp 2.
  • 1993, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa became the first Nepali female to summit Everest. She perished on the descent and posthumously has become a Nepali national heroine. A peak has been named in her honor as well as a statue in Kathmandu near Baudhnath. -1999, Babu Chiri Sherpa spent 21 hours on the summit without supplementary oxygen.
  • 2000, Davo Karnicar descended from the summit on skis.
  • 2001, Marco Siffredi snowboarded from the summit.
  • 2002, Erk Weihenmayer was the first blind summiteer. -2004, Pemba Dorje Sherpa made the fastest ascent (along the southern approach and with supplemental oxygen), in 8 hours and 10 minutes. -2005, Didier Delsalle landed a helicopter on the summit (not without controversy) setting records for both highest landing and takeoff.
  • 2008, Nepal’s Min Bahadur Sherchan became Nepal’s oldest summiteer at 76 (25 days shy of age 77).
  • 2012, Japan’ Tamae Watanabe, 73 years old became the oldest woman to climb Everest.
  • Sometimes referred to as an ‘Icy Graveyard,’ in the history of climbing on the peak to 2013, around 250 climbers have died including nearly 90 Sherpa. A majority of the corpses are still on the mountain!

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