5 Mount Everest Climbers
These 5 Mount Everest climbers represent the first of various groups to attempt or reach the summit. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world at 29,028 feet and is located between Tibet and Nepal. It is held in reverence by mountain climbers and the general public as a pinnacle of climbing achievement.
- George Mallory. This World War I veteran was born in 1886. He was part of the first British expedition up Mount Everest, in 1922. The team had to turn back at 27,000 feet due to bad weather. But they made it that far without oxygen tanks. When asked why he wanted to climb Everest, Mallory replied "Because it's there." Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew Irvine died in June of 1924. They had been spotted by telescope climbing only a few hundred meters from the summit. Mallory's frozen body was discovered, remarkably well preserved, in 1999. Evidence suggests that he may have reached the top and began his descent before perishing.
- Sir Edmund Hillary. This New Zealander was born in 1919 and made his living as a beekeeper. His interest in climbing began in his home country. He moved on to the Alps and then the Himalayas. Joining the British team led by Sir John Hunt, Hillary made his Mount Everest climb in 1953. All but Hillary and Nepalese Mount Everest climber Tenzing Norgay had to turn back. The two reached the summit on May 29 and are credited with being the first to do so. Hillary was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. From the 1960s onward, he devoted much of his life to helping the Nepalese people.
- Tenzing Norgay. For a period of twenty years, Norgay was a part of nearly every expedition up Everest, with roles as a porter to a full climbing partner. Norgay's first Everest attempt happened in 1935 with a British expedition. He was 19 and determined to climb Mount Everest. He reached the Summit with Edmund Hillary in May of 1953. After this feat, Norgay, born in a humble mountain village, became an international celebrity. He became the director of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. Tenzing died in 1986.
- Jim Whittaker. Born in 1929, Whittaker is the first American Mount Everest climber to reach the summit. He developed his interest in climbing with his twin brother Lou, scaling a 5,605 ft. rock spire called "The Tooth" in Washington state when the brothers were 14. Whittaker, part of a National Geographic-sponsored team, made it to the top of Mount Everest on May 1, 1963. His team was awarded National Geographic's Hubbard Medal by President Kennedy. Whittaker became friends with the Kennedy family. He also went on to be the first American to reach the summit of K2, the world's second tallest mountain, and to be CEO of REI.
- Junko Tabei. Born in Japan in 1939, Tabei is the first woman Mount Everest climber to reach the summit. She began her interest in mountain climbing at 10 years old. She reached the top of Mount Everest on May 16, 1975. She has since become the first woman to reach the summit of the highest peaks on all seven continents. She founded a woman's mountaineering club in 1969 and is currently the director for the Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan, a group that seeks to preserve the mountain environment.