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climbers Tiger of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay
by Liesl Clark

"It has been a long road...From a mountain coolie, a bearer of loads, to a wearer of a coat with rows of medals who is carried about in planes and worries about income tax."—Tenzing Norgay
When Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Everest in 1953 with New Zealander Edmund Hillary, he had no idea how his life would change. From that moment on, Tenzing became an ambassador for his people, the high altitude Sherpas of Darjeeling and the Khumbu. Although he spoke 7 languages, Tenzing never learned how to write; however he wrote several books by dictation, and they provide a timeless account of an era when the high Himalayan frontiers were still unexplored.

No one knew if the top of Everest could be reached until May 29, 1953 when he and Ed Hillary plodded their way to the summit from their high camp at 28,000 feet. This was the expedition's camp #9, 1,000 feet from the summit and situated some 2,000 feet higher than today's highest camp for climbers on the same route. Today, climbers set up only 4 camps on the mountain, because Base Camp is positioned much higher than it was in the early days.

if On the morning of their summit day, Tenzing and Hillary left their camp and proceeded up the southeast ridge toward the summit. Tenzing later wrote: "On the top of the rock cliff we rested again. Certainly, after the climb up the gap we were both a bit breathless, but after some slow pulls at the oxygen I am feeling fine. I look up; the top is very close now; and my heart thumps with excitement and joy. Then we are on our way again. Climbing again. There are still the cornices on our right and the precipice on our left, but the ridge is now less steep. It is only a row of snowy humps, one beyond the other, one higher than the other. But we are still afraid of the cornices and, instead of following the ridge all the way, cut over to the left, where there is now a long snow slope above the precipice. About a hundred feet below the top we come to the highest bare rocks. There is enough almost level space here for two tents, and I wonder if men will ever camp in this place, so near the summit of the earth. I pick up two small stones and put them in my pocket to bring back to the world below."

Jamling Climbing Everest for the first time, IMAX/IWERKS Everest Expedition's climbing leader Jamling Norgay, Tenzing's son, is fulfilling a lifelong dream: "I'm not doing this because I'm going to make some money, I'm doing it more to fulfill my dream. I've always had this urge to climb Everest. Since I was 18 years old I wanted to climb but my father said no. He said, "Why do you want to climb? I already climbed it for you. You don't have to work on the mountain." His basic line was, "I've climbed the mountain. You don't have to climb it, by me climbing the mountain, making money, it's all for you, to give you an education, the best education you can get, the best of everything." So we did get the best of everything—all my brothers and sisters—we studied in the U.S. My three brothers and sister are working in the US right now. . . so I see his point."


Photos: (1, 3) courtesy Robert Schauer; (2) courtesy Araceli Segarra.

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