D.C., 2003, 1st edition. 299 pp, color photos. New Hardcover with Dust Jacket.
Many of us regard Tenzing and Hillary's Everest climb of Mount Everest in May 1953 as the most important mountain climb of all time. Tenzing's presence on the Everest 1953 expedition made the ascent possible, not just for his role as climber, but as sirdar. Without Tenzing, the Swiss would have been first in 1956! In 1953, Tenzing Norgay was at the heart of the successful British Everest expedition as leader of the Sherpas whose hard work brought victory and as one of the two lead climbers to reach the top.
But behind Tenzing’s radiant smile is an untold story of courage, tragedy, and ambition, of a man who overcame incredible odds just to reach the bottom of the mountain. Mountaineering historian Ed Douglas reveals for the first time Tenzing’s long climb from obscurity. Drawing on extensive interviews with family members, climbing partners, and members of the Sherpa community in Darjeeling and Nepal, the book chronicles his rise to fame and the aftermath of his triumph. The result is a wealth of new material about a man who made his people famous and whose life was the stuff of legend.
Fifty years after the first ascent of Everest, the heroism and determination of the climbers who pioneered the route still captures the imagination of people around the world. In an age before commercialism and adventure tourism made ascents of Everest commonplace, the courage and sense of adventure shown by an earlier generation of mountaineers remains an inspiration. Drawing on in-depth interviews with key family members, friends, and climbing partners, this volume throws new light on Tenzing Norgay's childhood and early years as a young climbing porter and how he overcame huge odds to reach the top of the world.
The role of Tenzing Norgay in the success of the 1953 expedition wasn't just confined to standing atop the summit. He was at the center of the expedition's organization too, making sure that his team of Sherpas delivered enough loads to high camps on the mountain. Despite his fame and popularity, there is still a great deal to learn about the life of Tenzing Norgay, about his origins, his childhood, and how he managed to become one of the best climbing Sherpas of his era. Only the full story of his life shows the true scale of his achievement and the problems and difficulties behind his bright smile.
His story is intertwined with the story of the people he worked alongside, a unique and unrepeatable story in the history of exploration. Part ethnography, part biography, and full of the excitement of early Himalayan climbing, Tenzing: Hero of Everest tells the story of mountaineering's most famous day, 29 May, 1953: Perhaps Tenzing's greatest gift to the story was the human face he put on their success. He took the keepsakes his daughter had given him, the little red-and-blue pencil and some small offerings of biscuits and candy for the deity Miyolangsangma, and scraped away a hollow in the snow in which to place them. He posed for Hillary's camera, holding aloft his ice axe with the flags he had carried with him of the United Nations, Britain, Nepal, and India but these grander messages seem lost in comparison to his thoughts of his family and his god. 'All I can say is that on Everest,' he wrote, 'I was not thinking about politics.'
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with some additions.
Tenzing Norgay (May 29(?) 1914 – May 9, 1986) was a Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer. He and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. Tenzing was not only the greatest Sherpa climber of his generation, he was also the first common born Asian of any nationality to achieve world wide fame.
Tenzing grew up in a peasant family in Khumbu in Nepal, very near Mount Everest, which the Sherpas called Chomolungma. At the time he climbed Everest it was generally believed that he was born there, but in the 1990s it was claimed that he was actually born in Tshechu, now Tibet Autonomous Region, present-day China, but this was kept secret for political reasons.
He was originally called 'Namgyal Wangdi', but as a child his name was changed on advice from a lama ('Norgay' means 'fortunate'). His father was Ghang La Mingma (who died in 1949) and his mother was Kinzom (who lived to see him climb Everest); he was the 11th of 13 children, most of whom died young.
His exact date of birth is uncertain, but he knew it was late May from the weather and the crops. Later, he decided to treat May 29 as his birthday, as this was the date he climbed Everest. He ran away to Kathmandu twice as a boy, and eventually settled in the Sherpa community in Too Song Bhusti in Darjeeling, West Bengal, India.
He took part as a high-altitude porter in three official British attempts to climb Everest from the northern Tibetan side in the 1930s starting in 1935. Tenzing also took part in other climbs in various parts of the Indian subcontinent, and for a time in the early 1940s he lived in what is now Pakistan; he said that the most difficult climb he ever took part in was on Nanda Devi East, where a number of people were killed.
In 1947,he took part in an unsuccessful summit attempt. An eccentric Englishman named Earl Denman, Ange Dawa Sherpa, and himself entered Tibet illegally to attempt the mountain; the attempt ended when a strong storm at 22,000 feet pounded them. Denman admitted defeat and all three turned around and safely returned.
In 1952, he took part in two Swiss expeditions and teamed up with Raymond Lambert, the first serious attempts to climb Everest from the southern Nepalese side, during which he and Lambert reached the then record height of 8,599 m (28,215 ft). Lambert and Tenzing always knew that Tenzing could have summited on this climb, and Tenzing always regretted that he did not succeed with Lambert, a true friend, rather than with Hillary with whom he was never close.
In 1953, he took part in Sir John Hunt's expedition, his own seventh expedition to Everest, in which he and Hillary became the first men to reach the summit. Afterwards he was met with adulation in India and Nepal, and even literally worshipped by some people who believed he must be an incarnation of Buddha or Siva. Tenzing and Hillary were the first people to set their feet on the summit of Mount Everest, but journalists were persistently repeating the question which of the two men had the right to the glory of being the first one, and who was merely the second, the follower.
Hillary and Tenzing answered that question in characteristically different ways. In his book, Hillary described himself as the strong leader of the team, who not only was working hard making steps in the snow for both of them, but also had to pull Tenzing up those steps, and that Tenzing kept falling to the ground, extremely exhausted. Tenzing's account a few years later sounded very different: he stressed the unity of such teams and of their achievements, shrugged off the allegation of being ever pulled by anyone, but disclosed that Hillary was the first to put his foot on the summit. He concluded: 'If it is a shame to be the second man on Mount Everest, then I will have to live with this shame'. Recently his sons have revealed that Tenzing told them that he, Tenzing was first to summit, but Ed Hillary insists it was himself.
Tenzing was married three times. His first wife, Dawa Phuti, died young in 1944. With her he had a son, Nima Dorje, who died at the age of 4, and two daughters, Nima and Pem Pem. His second wife was Ang Lahmu, a cousin of his first wife. They had no children, but she acted as stepmother to his daughters. He took his third wife while his second wife was still alive, as allowed by Sherpa custom, and with her he had his sons Jamling and Norbu. Other relatives include his nephews, Gombu and Topgay, who also took part in the 1953 Everest expedition.
Tenzing later became director of field training for the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. In 1978, he founded a company, Tenzing Norgay Adventures, that offers trekking in the Himalaya. As of 2003, the company is run by his son Jamling Tenzing Norgay, who himself reached the summit of Everest in 1996. Tenzing died in Darjeeling (now Darjiling), West Bengal, India in 1986.