New records, reflection mark Everest 60th anniversary

New records, reflection mark Everest 60th anniversary

New records, reflection mark Everest 60th anniversary

Sixty years ago this week two men became the first to stand on the roof of the world in a remarkable feat of endurance and strength of the human spirit.

As the May 29 anniversary of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary's summit of Mount Everest approaches, hundreds of people from all walks of life, and with varying motivations, are trying to follow in their footsteps.

With May the ideal month to climb in the Himalayas, some 500 have already succeeded this year, including an octogenarian, the first female amputee, the first women from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and the first female climber to summit twice in one season.

Still more will attempt an ascent while the good weather window remains open, including professional mountaineers with corporate sponsorship, those attempting to break records, activists raising awareness and charity fundraisers.

While the tourism generated by Everest is important for Nepal, Norgay's grandson Tashi Tenzing, 49, said understanding the value of the Himalayas and protecting them for future generations was also crucial.

"I think that the 60th anniversary is a time to reflect on the mountain and what we have done to it. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary we must learn the lessons from our experience on the mountains," said Tashi, himself an Everest mountaineer based in Kathmandu.

To mark the anniversary, Hillary's son Peter, and Norgay's son Jamling, will join Queen Elizabeth II at a diamond jubilee event at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Celebratory events back on Everest range from a clean-up campaign at base camp to a high-altitude marathon.

In Kathmandu, a gala featuring record-setting summiteers and top brass from Nepal's government will be held at the palace.

Increased crowding on the peak was captured in a now-famous photograph showing climbers lined up like ants as they traversed the Lhotse Face ice wall last year.
The image has become emblematic of a mountain that may have become, as a later National Geographic piece suggested, "maxed out".

Some 3,000 people have reached the top of the 8,848-m (29,029-ft) mountain so far.
Cason Crane, a 20-year-old American university student, is aiming to be the first openly gay person to reach the summit.

Before leaving for the climb he told AFP in Kathmandu: "It's not about a personal achievement for me, it's about being a role model."

Everest was named in 1852 by the colonial-era Great Trigonometrical Survey of India which singled out the until then unremarkable peak in the eastern Himalayas as the tallest mountain in the world.

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