Tenzing Norgay

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Tenzing Norgay (May 29(?) 1914 - May 9, 1986) was a Nepalese Sherpa, a participant in seven expeditions to Mount Everest culminating in the first successful ascent, during Sir John Hunt's expedition of 1953. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first men to reach the summit.

Tenzing grew up in a peasant family in Solo Khumbu in Nepal, very near Mount Everest, which his people knew as 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 Tibet, but this was hushed up for political reasons. 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 who died young. His exact date of birth is uncertain, but he knew it was late May from the weather and the crops, and in later years 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 in 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. In 1947 he took part in an attempt which entered Tibet illegally, consisting only of an eccentric Englishman Earl Denman, himself, and another Sherpa Ang Dawa.

He also took part in other climbs in various parts of the Indian sub-continent, and lived for a while 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 1952, he took part in two Swiss expeditions led by 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). After he climbed Everest, 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 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 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 son Jamling. Other relatives include his nephews, Gombu and Topgay, also took part in the 1953 Everest expedition.

Tenzing Norgay and Edmund 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. For anyone familiar with extreme mountain climbing such question is a nonsense and a non-issue, since two people tied to two ends of one rope work as a team, a unity, and they constantly take turns in leading.

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".

References

Tenzing Norgay and James Ramsay Ullman, Man of Everest (first published as Tiger of the Snows)

After Everest (a second autobiography written by a ghost writer)

External link

da:Tenzing Norgay de:Tenzing Norgay es:Tenzing Norgay fr:Tensing Norgay id:Tenzing Norgay he:טנזינג נורגיי pl:Tenzing Norgay sv:Tenzing Norgay

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