KATHMANDU: Nepal on Wednesday marked 60 years since the first ascent of Everest, celebrating the pioneering climbers whose bravery spawned an industry that many mountaineers fear is now ruining the world’s highest peak.
Four days of ceremonies dubbed the “Everest Diamond Jubilee” concluded on Wednesday with family members of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the first summiteers, laying garlands on statues of the now legendary pair.
Hillary’s granddaughter and niece joined Italian climbing celebrity Reinhold Messner, Norgay’s grandson Tashi Tenzing and the last surviving member of the 1953 expedition, Kancha Sherpa, in a horse-drawn chariot procession through Kathmandu.
The British-funded trip to the highest point on earth—8,848 meters above sea level—changed mountaineering forever and turned New Zealander Hillary and Nepalese guide Norgay into household names in many parts of the world.
“Hillary and Tenzing were rock stars of the 1950s and into the 1960s,” Hillary’s son Peter told Agence France-Presse in an interview. “The biggest thing about 1953 is that they were going into the unknown.