Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tenzing Hero of Everest Presentation 29th May 2014

Tenzing's life in pictures on 100th birth anniversary

IANS | Kolkata May 29, 2014 Last Updated at 18:12 IST

A photographic presentation here Thursday brought to life the triumphant moments of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, on the Nepali sherpa's 100th birth anniversary.

The event also commemorated the 61st anniversary of the historic feat.

New Zealander Hillary and Norgay reached the 8,850-metre summit of Everest May 29, 1953 as part of the ninth British expedition to attempt scaling the world's tallest peak.

The mountaineers stayed at the summit for about 15 minutes before beginning the long trek down the mountain.

Hillary and Norgay blazed a trail that has been followed by nearly 6,200 climbers.

Hillary (1919-2008) was 33 when he conquered Everest. Norgay, born in May 1914, was 39. After the epoch-making event May 29, the sherpa decided to celebrate his birthday on the same date every year.

Sujoy Das, a veteran photographer of the Himalayas, showcased Norgay's extraordinary life through pictures at an art
gallery here. The pictures were sourced from various collections across the world as well from the sherpa's own archives.

Norgay passed away in 1986 in Darjeeling, West Bengal, at the age of 72.

"We have got photographs from the 1953 climb, as well as from earlier expeditions in the 1920s and 1930s. There are
photos of Tenzing Norgay's days in Darjeeling as well," Das, who has been trekking in the Himalayas for the last 30 years, told IANS.

The show is a dedication to the grit and glory of the sherpas, the ethnic group living at the foot of the mountains, who are preferred by foreigners for Himalayan expeditions due to their physical strength as well as for their honesty.

The boom in commercial expeditions since the 1990s has led to an increased demand for the tough guides of the mountains. However, this has also put the lives of the sherpas in danger.

The death of 13 sherpas and the disappearance of three in an avalanche on Everest last month has brought to the fore the extreme conditions they are exposed to.

"They are the ones who do the actual groundwork. But because of the rise in the number of expeditions, the mountain ranges have become overcrowded. Regulations and controls are needed to ensure safety of the climbers," Das said.

More than 300 people have died on Everest since the first successful climb in 1953. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tenzing Norgay - Hero of Everest May 29th 2014

Tenzing Norgay was born in Tibet in 1914. On the occasion of his birth centenary, I am presenting a one hour slide show on his life and climbs. All are welcome!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Kathmandu Bookshops

One of the reasons why I enjoy going to Kathmandu is to visit the bookshops. The city has some fine stores with an excellent collection of Himalayan literature, maps and guide books. Here are three of my favourite bookshops.

Pilgrims Book House
The original Pilgrims which was a Kathmandu institution was burned down  in 2013 and this is a  new bookshop not far from the old one, opposite to the famous Helenas Restaurant. The bookshop has possibly the best collection of books on the Himalayas including some old and rare titles. Tel: +977 1 4221546;  +977 9803926019;

Tibet Book Store
As the name suggests, this bookshop is for  all books on Tibet and Buddhism! Located on Tridevi Marg next to the high end trekking stores like North Face and Mountain Hardwear, it is also covers other regions of the Himalaya. Tel: 977 1 4415788;

Himalayan Map House 
An expert on maps and guide books in the Himalaya, the Himalayan Map House is located across the road from the Hot Breads bakery in Thamel. The collection is vast and includes the laminated Great Himalayan Trail maps as well.  Tel: 977 14231220; 977 1 4244965;;

Happy browsing!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Everest Icefall Tragedy April 2014

Everest and the Khumbu icefall 
An abbreviated version of this article appears in The Hindu Business Line Blink on May 9th 2014

" No part of the South Col route was feared more by the climbers than the Icefall... the mass of ice splinters into a jumble of huge tottering blocks called seracs, some as large as office buildings... each trip through the Icefall was like playing  a round of Russian Roulette: sooner or later any given serac was going to fall over without warning" John Krakauer in Into Thin Air

One sunny day in June 1922, George Mallory from the second British Everest expedition was leading a team of climbers and sherpas up to the North Col of Everest.  Around six hundred feet below the Col, the slope suddenly gave way without any warning and within seconds seven expedition sherpas had lost their lives.  None of the British climbers died in the avalanche. The disaster prompted Howard Somervell, an expedition member, to comment “Only Sherpas and Bhotias killed- why oh why could not one of us, Britishers, share their fate?" The expedition leader, Colonel Bruce, paid Rs 250 each as compensation to the families of the sherpas!

On April 18th 2014, just after dawn, another deadly avalanche swept down the west shoulder of Everest and entombed sixteen sherpas in the Khumbu icefall. The sherpas, part of a team known as “icefall doctors”, were maintaining the route though the deadly Icefall, a job which Outside magazine claimed as being twelve times more dangerous than a U.S. soldier in the Iraq war!  This was the worst disaster on Everest in the history of the mountain. Compared to foreign clients who would possibly pass through the icefall a few times, an expedition sherpa makes around thirty terrifying trips throughout the climbing season.


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