62 years after New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first attained Everest’s summit on May 28th, 1953, the elusive mountain remains a compelling symbol of all that is possible, as well as a reminder of the forces of untamed nature. The mountain garnered its singular stature as the world’s highest peak in 1856, the result of the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India. It was the results of this survey that would forever secure Everest’s domination among the most alluring of exploration’s trophies, as well as would procure its name after Sir George Everest, one of the early leaders of the massive undertaking.
Early the morning of May 28th when When Hillary and Norgay braced for the last push to capture the summit they were painfully aware of the how quickly the mountain’s beguiling persuasiveness could turn to immutable hostility. The 1953 expedition represented the 9th British attempt to summit Everest. It was the British officer Charles Howard-Bury who had led the first reconnaissance to Everest in 1921 and had opened the pathway for others to follow. The successful Hillary/Norgay summit was the first to officially employ the southeastern ridge route. The triumph garnered the pair accolades around the world. Although the mountain’s pinnacle was reached, Everest’s lure has never diminished. The recent April 2015 earthquake, which devastated Nepal and triggered avalanches along Everest, extracted the deadliest toll in the mountain’s history. Although Everest was perhaps symbolically captured in 1953, it was never conquered.