The history of conquering Mount Everest

The first steps to conquer the highest mountains of the world were made at the end of the eighteenth century. At that time it was known that the Everest is the highest mountain in the world, but it was not know from where it would be easiest to approach. It took until 1905 until two British officers, on their way from India to Lhasa approached to 100km from the mountain and made a guess that North Ridge could be a possible route to the to.

In 1919 in England, In Royal Geographic Society, Major J.B. Noel held a lecture suggesting an expedition to look for approach route to the Everest via Southern Tibet. This started the enthusiasm that resulted the first expedition to go in 1921. George Mallory was with this expedition. This expeditoin concentrated to search a route to the foot of the mountain. The center of the activity was the Rongbuk glacier that is the way to the North Col. This was the route they were looking for. the summit attempt was not done due to the weather and the height achieved was 6900m.

A new expedition was sent the next year. A new altitude record was achieved, 8300m. Mallory was again with the expedition, but the highest point was reached by Geoffrey Bruce and George Finch. In 1924 there was again a new expedition. George Mallory did participate also this time and also young Sandy Irwine was there. The summit attempt ended for the disappearance of both Mallory and Irvine. Noel Odell was the last person to see them alive and climbing up in a place which hasn't been confirmed (either above the first or second step). The Everest has gained it's first british casualties. All in all these three expeditions had suffered 12 casualties. During this expedition E.F. Norton climbed up to 8570m which was a new record height.

Next expedition came only 1933 which was again a failure reaching, however, the same altitude than the 1924 expedition, 8570m. The continuous failures in Everest became a national shame for the brits and a new expedition was sent in 1935. That was again a failure and concentrated to climb the nearby peaks. Again in 1936 a new expedition was on it's way but failed miserably due to the very early monsoon. In 1934, 1946 and 1951 three expeditions with only one man tried to reach the top without a success.

Until now all the expeditions have been trying to reach the top from the Tibet. In 1951 the British organized a new expedition to search for approach from south via Nepal. They trekked from Kathmandu to Namche Bazar and onwards until they reached Khumbu Ice Fall. With the expedition was a New Zealander Edmund Hillary. the expedition forced a way through Khumbu Ice Fall and reached the bottom of Western Cwm. This was enough for them and they returned to England with a plan to come back next year. Much to their horror British learned that Nepalese have granted the 1952 climbing permit to Swiss expedition. The Brits were concerned that do they lose the honor to be the first nation on top of Everest. It came very close indeed since the Swiss made a through Khumbu Ice Fall, Western Cwm all the way up to South col and attempted the summit. However, they had to stop 200m below the South Summit making a new height record of 8600m. One of the climbers to reach that point was swiss Lambert and other Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

Relieved the British came back to mountain in spring 1953. Again Edmund Hillary was with the expedition as well as Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. This attempt must be successfull since the 1954 climbing permit was already with French and 1955 with Swiss again. in case of failure the Brits would have needed to wait until 1956 and either French or Swiss would have most probably succeeded before that. the expedition started from Kathmandu 8.3.1953. It took 2.5 months to carry all the needed equipment and establish higher camps for the summit attempt. This time it was successful and the top of Mount Everest was reached on 29.5.1953. The base for the successful attempt was done by hand picked sherpas and New Zealander George Lowe who established the higher camps. Without their hard work the British audience would have read again about a failed expeditions.

?It seemed difficult to grasp that we?d got there. I was too tired and too concious of the long way down to safety really to feel any great elation. But as the fact of our success thrust itself more clearly into my mind, I felt a quiet glow of satisfaction spread through my body ? a satisfaction less vociferous but more powerful than I had ever felt on a mountain top before.?1 Näin Sir Edmund Hillary kuvaili jälkeenpäin tunteitaan saavutettuaan Sherpa Tenzing Norgayn kanssa ensimmäisinä ihmisinä Mount Everestin huipun 29.5.1953 klo 11:30 aamulla.

1) Everest The Mountaineering History, Walt Unsworth