Sixty years ago today, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay completed the first successful summit of Everest, the world’s highest mountain. To mark this auspicious ‘Diamond Jubilee’, Nepal has today held a special ceremony to honour Hillary and Tenzing and all of the climbers who have since followed in their footsteps.
Among the many celebratory events taking place this week to mark the anniversary was an attempt at the world record for highest BASE jump exit point. Two years in the planning, extreme sports superstar, Valery Rozov (Russia) leapt off the north face of the mountain from a claimed height of 7,220 m (23,680 ft) above sea level.
Guinness World Records is currently awaiting evidence of the jump, but if verified it would beat Glenn Singleman’s record-breaking leap of 6,604 m (21,666 ft) from a ledge on Mt Meru, Garwhal Himalaya, India in 2006.
Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary
It’s certainly been a busy half dozen decades for the mega mountain, with thousands of summits achieved and oodles of records being claimed by all kinds of ambitious climbers. For example, 1975 saw the first woman, Junko Tabei (Japan), to scale Everest’s dizzying heights on 16th May, followed shortly after by Reinhold Messner (Italy) and Peter Habeler (Austria) who achieved the first ascent without oxygen in 1978.
Unfortunately it hasn’t all been plain sailing. In 1996 Everest experienced one of its saddest years when the most deaths in one day occurred on 10 May. A severe blizzard struck the area resulting in eight climbers tragically losing their lives and 20 others being left with serious injuries.
Happier hiking records have taken in the first blind summit (2001), first married couple to reach the peak (2002) and the most ascents by a female (2005). Not forgetting Apa Sherpa (Nepal), who has reached the lofty heights a staggering 21 times as of 2011, making him the record holder for the most conquests.
In fact, climbing Everest has become such a popular past-time, these days climbers have to quite literally wait in line for their turn to clamber up the crag – on a good day, around 150 people will reach the top.
This season alone has seen at least 512 successful ascents and, so far, three new records, including the first climb from both sides and the oldest man to make the summit. Yuichiro Miura (Japan) has actually scaled the mountain a total of three times; first at the age of 70, then again at 75 and, most recently, at the ripe old age of 80 he conquered the peak once again, on 23 May 2013.
One thing’s for sure – this awe-inspiring mountain is bound to keep challenging creative-climbing record-breakers for another 60 years.