Which Indian was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest?

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By Kristy Tolley

The Indian quest for Mount Everest

Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world, located in the Himalayan range between Nepal and Tibet. It has attracted mountaineers from all over the world, including many from India. For Indians, the conquest of Everest has been a symbol of national pride and a test of physical and mental strength. The Indian mountaineering community has a rich history of attempting Everest, with several notable successes and failures.

The first Indian to attempt Mount Everest

The first Indian to attempt to climb Mount Everest was Nawang Gombu, a Sherpa from Darjeeling who was part of the British expedition in 1953. Gombu was just 19 years old at the time and had no prior experience in mountaineering. He made it to the South Col at 26,000 feet but had to turn back due to altitude sickness. Despite his failure, Gombu went on to become a successful mountaineer, summiting Everest twice and becoming the first person to climb the peak of Nanda Devi in India.

Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary’s historic climb

The first successful ascent of Mount Everest was made on May 29, 1953, by Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese Sherpa, and Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand mountaineer. This historic climb made Tenzing and Hillary international celebrities and cemented their place in mountaineering history. Tenzing had been part of several British expeditions to Everest before 1953 and had come close to the summit on several occasions. His partnership with Hillary was crucial in achieving the historic feat.

Tenzing Norgay’s Indian connections

Tenzing Norgay had strong Indian connections, having lived most of his life in Darjeeling, a town in the Indian state of West Bengal. He was of Tibetan-Nepalese descent but identified strongly with his Indian heritage. Tenzing was known to be proud of his Indian nationality and often used Indian gear and supplies on his expeditions. After his successful climb of Everest, Tenzing became a hero in India and was celebrated as an Indian mountaineer.

Tenzing Norgay’s early life and mountaineering career

Tenzing Norgay was born in 1914 in a small village in Nepal. He moved to Darjeeling as a young boy and began working as a porter for British expeditions to Everest. Tenzing quickly developed a passion for mountaineering and became a skilled climber. He was part of several expeditions to Everest in the 1940s and 1950s before finally achieving the summit in 1953.

The Indian influence on Tenzing Norgay’s success

Tenzing Norgay’s success on Everest was influenced by his Indian connections and the support he received from the Indian mountaineering community. Many of the porters and Sherpas who supported the British expeditions to Everest were from India, and Tenzing was able to draw on their expertise and knowledge of the mountain. Tenzing also had a strong connection to Darjeeling, which had a vibrant mountaineering culture and provided a supportive environment for his training and preparation.

Indian climbers who followed in Tenzing Norgay’s footsteps

Tenzing Norgay’s success on Everest inspired a generation of Indian mountaineers to follow in his footsteps. In 1965, an Indian expedition led by Captain M.S. Kohli became the first to climb the peak of Nanda Devi in India. Since then, Indian climbers have achieved several notable successes on Everest, including Bachendri Pal, who became the first Indian woman to climb the peak in 1984.

The controversy over the first Indian ascent of Mount Everest

There has been some controversy over who was the first Indian to climb Mount Everest. In 1975, Phu Dorji, a Sherpa from Sikkim, claimed to have climbed the mountain in 1965 as part of an Indian expedition. However, there was no evidence to support his claim, and it was not recognized by the Indian government. In 2016, Sonam Gyatso, also from Sikkim, claimed to have made an unverified ascent of Everest in 1965. However, his claim was also not recognized by the Indian government.

The official recognition of India’s first successful climb

The first official Indian ascent of Mount Everest was made by a team led by Captain M.S. Kohli in 1965. The team included 9 climbers and reached the summit on May 20. However, the climb was not recognized by the international mountaineering community at the time, as the Indian government did not submit the necessary paperwork. It was only in 2014 that the Indian government officially recognized the climb, making it a historic moment in Indian mountaineering.

The legacy of Tenzing Norgay and Indian mountaineering

Tenzing Norgay’s success on Everest and his Indian connections have had a lasting impact on Indian mountaineering. He inspired a generation of Indian climbers to pursue their dreams and showed that with hard work, dedication, and support, anything was possible. Today, Indian mountaineers continue to push the limits of what is possible, achieving new heights and setting new records.

Conclusion: Celebrating India’s contribution to mountaineering history

India’s contribution to mountaineering history is often overlooked, but it is a rich and vibrant story. From Tenzing Norgay’s historic climb to the first official Indian ascent of Everest, Indian mountaineers have achieved incredible feats of physical and mental strength. As we celebrate their achievements, we should also remember the supportive communities and cultures that made their success possible and continue to inspire future generations of Indian climbers.

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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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