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Summit attempt

Summit attempt
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First Published: Fri, Apr 29 2011. 10 01 PM IST
• Right after the Chinese invasion of Tibet, three Chinese climbers claimed to have made the first ascent of Everest North Ridge in 1960. As the story goes, after facing obstacles at 28,800ft, a climber took off his shoes and socks and overcame the hurdle with naked feet. Having climbed at night, the Chinese team didn’t have photographs to support its summit claim, providing fuel to sceptics.
• For many years before the height of Peak XV was established, Mt Kanchenjunga’s summit was thought of as the highest point on earth. Peak XV, after it became known as the world’s tallest mountain and was christened Mount Everest, came to be referred to as the “Third Pole”.
• On why he wanted to climb Everest, George Mallory had famously quipped, “Because it is there.” On different occasions he would comment: “Higher in the sky than imagination had ventured to dream, the top of Everest itself appeared” and “it would look rather grim to see others without me, engaged in conquering the summit”. Before his eventual death on the mountain in 1924, Mallory was quoted as having said: “I can’t see myself coming down defeated.”
• The slopes of Everest have seen high-altitude thefts, with at least one climber reported to have died after his essentials were snitched from his camp. There have been controversies about climbers not helping other dying climbers in their zeal to reach the top.
• For many years, it was not known who reached the summit first—Edmund Hillary or Tenzing Norgay; both maintained a dignified silence on this issue. In later years, Norgay wrote that it was Hillary who placed the first step.
• In his book ‘High Exposure’, acclaimed climber and film-maker David Breashears narrates the incident of him trying to locate one of the 30ft towers built in Bihar’s Darbhanga during the 1840s for the Great Trigonometric Survey. In those days, Mt Everest could be seen from as far as the Bihar plains. Breashears’ efforts didn’t bring any result though: accumulated pollution and a strong factory-fuelled haze played spoilsport.
• Kushang Sherpa, an instructor at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, is the only Indian to have climbed Everest five times, including up the challenging and remote Kangshung Face, which Mallory had mentioned as “impossible” to negotiate. Santosh Yadav, an alumnus of Uttarakhand’s Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, was the first Indian woman to ascend Everest twice.
• After Indian mathematician Radhanath Sikdar discovered the earth’s highest point to be at 29,002ft in 1852, the height of Mt Everest has been revised only twice— 29,028ft, and the more recent 29,035ft, both times using modern scientific and satellite-based technology.
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First Published: Fri, Apr 29 2011. 10 01 PM IST