However, they had to return as they had used up all the oxygen which they had brought along. The next day, on May 28, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were chosen to make the final attempt. They reached the final camp safely and spent the night there. Early the next day, on May 29, they started off. They moved very carefully. The path was very steep and appeared dangerous. Finally, at 11.30 am, they reached the top- they had conquered Everest, world’s highest mountain. They hugged each other out of joy and took few snaps as proof of their great achievement. The world came to know of their feat, a few days later.
Ever since, the great achievement of Hillary and Tenzing numerous people from all walks of life made attempts to conquer Everest. More than 1200 people from 63 countries have made it to the top till August 2003 and 176 lives have been lost in these attempts. On May 23,1991, 89 climbers reached the top and during May 10-11, 1996, 10 climbers perished on the mountain. One climber reached the top 11 times and another 10 times. The quickest to go from the base to the top did so, just in 16 hours and the oldest to make it to the top was 65 years old and the youngest 16 years old. Even a blind man has been to the top. Ninety people have reached the top without oxygen. One climber has spent full 21 hours and half on the top. The first Indian successful attempt was made in 1965. The first Indian women to reach to the top were Bachendri Pal while another Indian woman, Santhosh Yadav did it twice.
The year 2003, is celebrated all over the world as the golden jubilee year of the first successful scaling of Mt. Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Edmund Hillary is still alive to relive the memories of the great day. But his companion Tenzing Norgay died in 1986. Several international celebrations were organised in the memory of the great feat.
Nearly 1500 climbers are waiting at the base camps as Nepal opens the floodgates to Everest on its 50th anniversary. Today climbers have the best equipment to sustain them in their arduous journey. Light clothing, sturdy tools make their climb easier. Boots, sleeping bags, ice axes, ice-screws, pitons, oxygen cylinders, cooking devices, etc., have tremendously improved. Technology has made climbing i better, easier, and safe.
It is clear that Everest will remain the ultimate adventure. New records will keep coming. The records of most number of climbs, fastest climb, slowest climb, most hours spent on top, etc., are likely to be broken in the near future.
More bizarre ones will continue to appear. There is no doubt that Mt. Everest will remain an epitome of indomitable human spirit, adventure and determination. Only the lucky and the determined will ever reach the top. As one of the mountaineers has said “You can buy anything in the quest for Everest, but not luck or weather”. The peak remains the eternal challenge of all challenges.