We knocked the bastard off...
Those were the comments of the late Sir Ed Hillary after he and Tibetan born sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, climbed and returned from Mount Everest in 1953. That was the beginning of the legend surrounding the young New Zealander. A climber and adventurer who also became so well known for his deeds within Nepal itself, his second home and a country he loved almost as much as his homeland. He became an icon and one of the greatest living New Zealanders until his death just a couple or so years ago. This mountainous country also claimed the lives of his first wife and eldest daughter in a small plane crash that almost cost Hillary his sanity. The great man recovered and returned to Nepal to continue his works there building schools and hospitals and assisting the Nepalese people. It was so sad that the Nepalese Government recently refused to allow Sir Ed's last ashes to be scattered om Mount Everest.
In recent years there have been claims that Hillary and Norgay's place as the conquerors of Mount Everest were disputed. The question that has been repeatedly asked is "Did those intrepid British climbers Mallory and Irvine actually climb the mountain in 1924, before the definitive success of Hillary and Norgay 29 years later and died on their descent? The climbing community is split on the issue. Did they reach the summit or did they fail to climb beyond what is known as the Second Step? George Mallory's body was found some years ago and has fuelled the speculation that he and Andrew Irvine had beaten Hillary and Tenzing to the summit 29 years earlier. Their technology was as inferior to Hillary and Tenzing's, as the latter is to that of the 21st century.
Are these claims true or just a case of attempting to use theories to fit the facts? It is also very doubtful that a film in a camera that was found on the mountain will be developed and able to cast any light on the speculation that surrounds the conquest of Everest. The speculation may continue; but as the then young Ed Hillary said in 1953, "We knocked the bastard off!
Acknowledgements: Peter Petterson
Mallory & Irvine 1924 Theories and Maps:
Did Mallory & Irvine reach the summit? An interview with American historian and climber, Tom Holzel.
Did Mallory & Irvine make it to the summit of Everest?