Sons of Mount Everest Pioneers to Repeat Historic Climb

Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
March 26, 2002

The National Geographic 50th Anniversary Everest Expedition commemorates the first ascent of the world's highest mountain, by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in May 1953. It also honors the first Americans to stand on the top of the world, including Barry Bishop, in 1963.

The sons of Everest pioneers Hillary, Norgay, and Bishop—Peter Hillary, Jamling Norgay, and Brent Bishop—are helping make a documentary that will air on the National Geographic Channel in the United States and internationally in 2003.

The National Geographic 50th Anniversary Everest Expedition is made possible in part by the generous support of American International Group, Inc.

The bustling springtime activity on Mount Everest—Earth's highest mountain and the dream destination of many hikers—makes it easy to forget that 50 years ago the summit seemed as unattainable as the surface of the moon.

No one knew whether people could attain such a height and survive in its rarefied air.

All of that changed in 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to stand on the "roof of the world." Ten years later, a man named Barry Bishop was among a group that carried the American flag to the summit for the first time, following a route up the previously unclimbed west ridge.

These milestones paved the way for a new era of Everest mountaineering. Now, another generation is carrying on the Everest traditions of their famous fathers, while honoring their historic achievements.

Peter Hillary, Jamling Norgay, and Brent Bishop—all accomplished climbers—plan to scale Mount Everest this year as part of a National Geographic-sponsored expedition marking the 50th anniversary of the first successful ascent of the summit. The current climb is part of a series of events leading up to the release of a documentary film on the historic event, set to premiere globally and in the United States on the National Geographic Channel in May 2003.

Although conditions have changed since Everest was first conquered, reaching the summit today is still demanding and dangerous, said Peter Hillary. "A lot of people maybe become a bit complacent because we've been on Everest before. But the mountain is as tough as it's always been, and if you make a mistake you may pay with your life," he said.

He added: "You can't take Everest for granted."

A Family Tradition

The climbers who shattered the invincibility of the world's highest mountain will forever be associated with Everest. And in some cases, they and their families created lifelong bonds with the region and its Sherpa people.

Continued on Next Page >>


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