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."