Tenzing Norgay

Born: 5/15/1914
Birthplace: Solo Khumbu, Nepal

On May 29, 1953 Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary became the first to successfully climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain on earth. Neither climbers would ever acknowledge which of them was technically the first to summit.

Tenzing was a Sherpa, a Tibetan people residing in the mountainous Khumbu region of Nepal near Mount Everest. He was drawn to mountaineering at an early age, and from the outset was fixed on the unwavering goal of climbing the world's highest mountain. He moved to Darjeeling, India, the starting point of many mountaineering expeditions, where he began working as a trekking porter. In 1935, at age 19, he accompanied a British expedition to Everest. Over the next two decades he took part in numerous unsuccessful attempts to summit the mountain, working as a porter in the earlier years and later as sirdar, the chief organizer of the day-to-day operations of an expedition. He established a reputation as a renowned climber. In 1952 Tenzing and Swiss climber Raymond Lambert almost made it to the summit of Everest before being forced to turn back. Then, on May 29, 1953, he and Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand climber, reached the summit. World famous overnight, Tenzing was touted as a symbol of national pride by three separate nations—Nepal, Tibet, and India—each of whom claimed him as their own. He went on to become director of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, and in 1978, published his autobiography, Man of Everest.

Died: 5/9/1986