One of Mother Nature’s crowning achievements, Mount Everest serves as a constant reminder that the natural world’s magnificence is unrivalled. For those bold enough to tackle her, Everest also serves as a challenge, and stories of human triumph and tragedy are forever scrawled onto her sheer facades. Everest has been drawing explorers, adventurers and travellers to her for decades. And she will continue to do so.
In the modern age, expeditions on Everest are relatively safe for experienced climbers (as of May 2013, there were a recorded 5,654 ascents and 219 deaths). Even for those trekking to base camp, just being under the same sky as this masterpiece is a humbling experience. And over the years, Everest's inspired human triumph that matches her magnitude.
Rupee: the stray dog that tackled Everest
When ex-professional golfer Joanne Lefson found an abandoned puppy starving in an Indian garbage dump, she felt compelled to take him under her wing. When Lefson found him, the eight-month old puppy was starving, dehydrated and could hardly even walk. Lefson took Rupee, as she named him, back to her native South Africa and nursed him back to health. In 2013, with Rupee back at full health, the pair journeyed to Kathmandu, with the intention of trekking to Everest Base Camp. Against all odds, they made it to base camp (in one piece) in 10 days. According to Lefson, Rupee led the way the entire time.
Yuichiro Miura: never too old
Yuichiro Miura became the oldest person to summit Mount Everest in May 2013 at the age of 81. The Japanese mountaineer had already scaled the 8,848m peak twice before – once at 70 and once at 75. On top of that, in 1970, Miura became the first person to ski down Everest (from an elevation of 8000m). In 2012, a Japanese woman by the name of Tamae Watanabe became the world’s oldest woman to scale the mountain. She was 73.
First descent: the story behind the story
When Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay became the first to summit Everest on 29 May 1953, the journalist accompanying the expedition could hardly send an email to his team at The Times newspaper back in the UK. For the journalist, James Morris (now known as Jan Morris), getting the scoop meant a rapid descent from an altitude of 6,700m in dwindling light conditions. Despite icefalls and nasty slips, Morris kept going with the help of expedition member Mike Westmacott. The coded message – to avoid other papers getting the story – then had to be forwarded some 32km to Namche Bazaar, where it was telegraphed back to the UK. “Everyone was expecting the news that the Empire was on top of the world,” said Morris in a later interview. “I had to get it through to London”. Morris’ story broke on the morning of Tuesday 2 June, the day of the Queen’s coronation.