TENZING NORGAY AND MOUNT EVEREST
translated by Per Jerberyd in 1997
Finally Tenzing Norgay stood on the top of Mount Everest. Under his feet was the goal of all alpine climbers hottest dreams. He had succeeded with the enormous task – in his sixth try putting his life at stake. The worlds most Himalaya-man tells about his moment on the summit.
MOUNT EVEREST 1953
At last we stood on the top of the world. Hillary and I hugging each other the best we could with our inconvenient equipment. And I still remember clearly how I exclaimed: We have made it! He didn’t understand me since we had our oxygen-masks on. But now it didn’t matter. This Friday morning I had thought: today we must succeed, now or never.
And so we had succeeded. Even if the hard way down was still to come… My first thought up on our coveted goal was about the sky! I felt a deep gratefulness to God that after my six earlier failed attempts still had accomplish my wish, that I so hot had desired for.
I dug a hole in the snow and put down some small sacrifice gifts- symbolic things that I had brought with me that our belief – my wife and I are Buddhists – demands. Preferably I wanted to sacrifice my clothes and equipment, but now that wasn’t possible. Instead I left a few biscuits, some chocolate and a blue-pen. The blue-pen had just a little piece left that my youngest daughter Nima had sent with me to sacrifice. It was a greeting from my family. Nima had earnest asked me to put the pen on the summit of Mount Everest. It was a quite ordinary pen, but one of my daughters dearest things. When I put it down, I notified Hillary about it. He smiled friendly at me, just to show me he understood.
I brought forward the four small flags from my pocket. They were attached in a piece of rope, four foot long. I attached the rope on around my ice-axe. Hillary took a few photos while I let the flags fly for all winds in one blow. Since I had to bring my ice-axe back I attached the ropes ends in the ice and snow so that the flags laid horizontal along the ground.
I was thirsty and brought forward my water bottle to have a drink of lemon-water. But the opening had frozen and made it impossible to open. I had to be satisfied with a couple of biscuits and I also shared a few with Hillary.
Almost exactly one year earlier, on May 28, 1952, I and my good friend Raymond Lambert (the Swiss) had been on Everest but was forced to turn back at approximately 8,600 meters altitude. Lambert then gave me a red scarf. The same scarf as I had now. By the way, I had it all the way from Darjeeling to the top. Lambert had shared tent with me all the time during both the Swiss expeditions last year and we became very good friends. In the English expedition I had to live alone in my tent until the last night when Hillary and I shared night-quarters. He was the only one who did. Well, other people other customs. Nothing more to say about it. The red scarf now reminded me of Lambert. I thought about him and felt that he was with me in this moment of joy.
Surprisingly enough, on this, the worlds highest summit I felt in my very best shape even though I had been quite tired earlier. My thought was completely clear. I was not tired, instead it felt like an inner satisfaction that blew out everything to something that I only can describe as a light feeling. All peaks, mountains and slopes sparkled in the sunshine below my feet. And from the illuminated peaks around the horizon, the mountain gods and goddesses watched us with friendly eyes. Below us laid this part of the world as a giant map.
On the top of the world there were place for two, perhaps three persons if you removed some ice. And seven – eight meters below, there were enough space for two persons to spend the night – if anyone would come up with that unusually idea. You could actually put up a tent there.
We stayed just longer than a quarter of an hour on the summit and we were grateful that no storm had forced us down. We had experienced a rare moment in our lives. But we couldn’t think to much about it now – the way down was waiting with all it’s dangers…
“There came no feeling of extreme pleasure or excitement, more a sence of of quiet satisfaction, and even a bit of surprise. So many though climbers had tried for the summit and failed. Now Tenzing and I where there: it seemed hard to belive.”
– Sir Edmund Hillary