The 70th anniversary of human's first ascent of Mount Everest is set to be celebrated with a global community of mountaineers and various organisations lining up a series of events with much gusto in Nepal, India, England and Switzerland in May and June.
Part of a British mountaineering expedition, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa from India and Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand were the first to reach the world’s highest point at 8,848m on May 29, 1953.
The expedition’s success was announced only on June 2, 1953, the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. The conquest of Everest in Nepal was termed by many as a defining achievement with a lasting legacy.
“This year, major events will be held to commemorate the historic climb,” said Jamling Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, an Everester and son of Tenzing. The family members of both Tenzing and Hillary have been invited to the events in various countries.
Himalayan Trust, Himalayan Trust UK, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Foundation, Australian Himalayan Foundation, Mount Everest Foundation, HimalayanTrust Nepal and the British Embassy in Nepal and the New Zealand High Commission in Delhi will organise the programmes.
On May 29, the families of Tenzing and Hillary will throw open museums to the public in two different areas near the Everest base camp.“In the morning, the Sir Edmund Hillary Visitor Centre will be inaugurated by the Hillary family at Khumjung. In the afternoon, we will throw open to the public the Sagarmatha Buffer Zone TenzingNorgay Sherpa Heritage Centre at Namche Bazar,” said Jamling.
Khumjung was the area where Hillary started his philanthropic work after scaling Everest. Climbers usually spend a couple of days for acclimatisation at Namche Bazar, which is the last rural market on the way to the base camp.
“We are expecting around 150 mountaineers from across the world to attend the May 29 events,” said Jamling.
The celebration isn't, however, confined to May 29. From May 16, Jamling and Hillary’s son Peter will organise treks around the base camp. Micheal Dillon, a filmmaker and a lifelong friend of Hillary, will also conduct trekking during that period.
On May 26, a statue of Tenzing will be unveiled at Lukla, Nepal. This year, the annual Everest Marathon on May 29, which is held in the Khumbu Valley, Nepal, and usually covers a distance of 60km will be increased to 70km as part of the 70th-anniversary celebration.
June 1 will be an evening of film screening and conversations in Kathmandu with renowned mountaineers, including the family members of Tenzing, Hillary and John Hunt, who was the leader of the expedition that scaled Everest.
Following an event by the British Embassy in Kathmandu on June 3, the celebration will move to India with the New Zealand High Commissionorganising a programme in New Delhi on June 6.
The Royal Geographic Society will organise an event in London on June 13, to which Peter and Jamling have been invited as speakers. A programme has been lined up at Landing Forty Two building in London on June 15 as well.
“During the end of June, I have been invited to another event in Geneva,” said Jamling. Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland. Tenzing had also been part of a Swiss expedition to Everest, which had just fallen short of reaching the top by a few hundred feet in 1952.