The victory of summiting the tallest mountain in the world is possibly one’s biggest lifetime achievement. However, summiting the world’s peak was just a dream before 1953. After Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Edmund Hillary succeeded in it, many others followed in their footsteps.
The 29th of March 1953 marked the first successful ascent to Everest. Then four more climbers finished this task in the 50s. Seventeen more climbers then successfully submitted Everest the following decade.
Here, we have an interesting overview of the first ten teams of Mount Everest climbers to summit it successfully.
The first climbers (Edmund Percival Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa)
On the morning of 29th March 1953 at 11:30, men set foot on Earth’s highest peak. A Nepali Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, and New Zealand Apiarist & alpinist Edmund Hillary did so. They finished the task by climbing Everest via South Col-SE Ridge.
Tenzing, in his autobiography, mentions that Hillary stepped on the peak first. Then Tenzing followed his lead stepping at the 8848m high point of Everest.
They spent about 19 minutes on the top. They also celebrated their victory by removing their mask and, fortunately, did not fall ill.
The message of their summit was sent by radio to the village of Namche in Nepal. Then it was redirected to the British Embassy of Nepal. The news broke worldwide on the day of the Queen’s coronation on June 1, 1953. Hence, people believe this news to be a stroke of good luck for the British Monarchy.
The Swiss Expeditors (Jürg Marmet, Ernst Schmied, Dolf Reist and Hans-Rudolf von Gunten)
After three years of the first successful Everest climbers, a Swiss team ventured on this task. It was the year 1956 when a two-man group of Swiss nationals dared to do this. They were Jürg Marmet, an engineer, and Ernst Schmied, a businessman.
They also took a route via S Col-SE Ridge to complete the ascent. They finished this gruesome task on 23rd May 1956. Along with these two Swiss, there was also another two-man Swiss team to summit Everest at the same timeframe. However, these two won the title of third and fourth climber.
Marmet and Schmied were also the first Swiss to ascend the famous Lhotse of Nepal in 1956.
A two-man team of Dolf Reist and Hans-Rudolf von Gunten climbed Everest in 1956. Reist, a photographer and aircraft mechanic, and Gunten a chemist, ventured for the summit with the prior group. However, they ended up reaching the summit a day later.
The duo reached the top 24th of May 1956.
The Chinese expeditors (Wang Fuzhou, Gonpo, and Qu Yinhua)
This group is popularly known as the 1960 Chinese Mount Everest expeditors. They were the first team to summit the mountain via the North Ridge. This expedition was a unique one as the Everest climbers followed the Chinese route, which was not yet climbed.
During the 60s, the Mount Everest expedition was a “national task.” The reason for this was that the border of Everest was still disputed between Nepal and China.
A four-member Chinese team with Liu Lianman, Wang Fuzhou, Gonpo, and Qu Yinhua set off at 9 am on 24th May. The ascent had many hurdles, specifically the Step’s last section. The members brought up many ideas for this. They tried making a human ladder and removing their shoes, shoulder ice packs, and safety ropes to reach the summit.
Wang Fuzhou, Gonpo, and Qu Yinhua ended up being the only successful climbers in this group. They left Liu Lianman behind on a cave cliff as they summited the peak at 4:20 am on 25th May 1960. The remaining members remained at the summit for 15 minutes. They commemorated their victory by leaving a 20 cm tall statue of Mao Zedong and a national flag with a paper note.
The success of this expedition had no visual evidence, as we could find no pictures of the summit. So the ascent was widely questioned at the beginning. However, an American expedition team found the Mao Zedong statue at the summit, which is solid proof of the team summiting the mountain.
The American team (Jim Whittaker, Nawang Gombu, Barry Bishop, Lute Jerstad, Willi Unsoeld, and Tom Hornbein)
After achieving permits on May 10, 1961, Norman Gunther Dyhrenfurth led a team of American climbers to summit Everest. It included Jim Whittaker, Barry Bishop, Lute Jerstad, Willi Unsoeld, and Tom Hornbein. Along with the Americans, they also had Nawang Gombu, the nephew of Tenzing Norgay.
The team lost a member, Jake Breitenbach, due to the Khumbu icefall. However, they continued the ascent with a lot of caution and good teamwork. The leader, Dyhrenfurth, guided the team through a democratic meeting. They discussed the tragedy and led the team through the motto of “commitment to consensus.”
One of the Americans, Whittaker, along with Sherpa Nawang Gombu, summited on May 1. They took the South cole route or the traditional successful ascent route.
On the other hand, Unsoeld and Hornbein completed the ascent via West Ridge on the 22nd of May. They then descended through the South cole, making it the first cross-over of the summit.
On the same day, May 22, Bishop and Jerstad became Mount Everest climbers via the South Col route. Although both pairs successfully summited the mountain, the descent was gruesome. They had to make their way back in darkness on the mountains in freezing cold. They did not have supplemental oxygens, tents, or sleeping bags. Although the mountaineers overcame this hurdle, they did suffer from frostbite. Unsoeld and Bishop had to amputate their toes as a result.
The Indian Expeditors (Lt Col Avatar. S. Cheema, Nawang Gombu Sherpa, C. P. Vohra, Ang Kami Sherpa, Sonam Gyatso, Sonam Wangyal, H. P. S. Ahluwalia, H. C. S. Rawat, and Phu Dorjee Sherpa)
This team is popular as the 1965 Indian Expedition team. After Hillary and Sherpa became the first Mount Everest climbers, there was a worldwide trend. Every country around the world wanted the title of having summited the world’s peak. India had made some attempts back in 1960 but failed to summit the mountain’s peak. However, the 1965 expedition allowed India to have a tremendous victory. Eight Indians, along with Nawang Gombu, summited the peak.
On the 20th of May, 1965, India got the title of the fourth country to reach the world’s peak. Lt Cold Avatar. S. Cheema with Nawang Gombu Sherpa summited the peak. This was the second time Nawang Gombu summited the peak. It gave him the unique title of being the only person to summit the world’s peak twice at the time.
After two days, Sonam Gyatso and Sonam Wangyal summited the mountain on 22 May. Once again, after two days, C. P. Vohra, and Ang Kami Sherpa summited the mountain.
The last three members of the team, Major H. P. S. Ahluwalia, H. C. S. Rawat, and Phu Dorjee Sherpa, summited on May 29. This summit marked the first-ever summit with three people together at the world’s top.
The Japanese expedition team (Teruo Matsuura, Naomi Uemura, and Katsutoshi Hirabayashi – with Chotare Sherpa)
Everest welcomed its next set of successful climbers five years after the 1965 expedition. Nepal government had banned mountain climbing within 38 peaks. After the ban was lifted after four years, the Japanese Alpine club prepared for an ascent.
The preparation of the ascent began in 1968 and came to fruition pre-monsoon of 1970. The expedition had a lot of tragic events. They begin the task with a team of 39 members, including reporters, cameramen, porters, guides, climbers, etc. Six Sherpas assisting the team were killed by an avalanche in Khumbu. Similarly, Kyak Tsering, one of the porters, was killed by an ice serac. A team member, Narita, also passed away due to an altitude sickness-related illness.
They tried ascending the mountain via both South East and South West ridge. A team tried one of the routes. In the end, the team lead via the South East ridge succeeded at to summit of the mountain. Matsuura and Naomi Uemura reached the top on May 11 at 9:10 am. Hirabayashi and Sherpa, on the other hand, finished their journey the next day.
The Italian expedition (Claudio Benedetti, Virginio Epis, Fabrizio Innamorati, Rinaldo Carrel, and Mirko Minuzzo – with Lhakpa Tenzing Sherpa, Shambu Tamang, and Sonam Gyaltzen Sherpa)
This expedition was meant to be the first step taken by the Italians to summit the world’s top. Led by Guido Monzino, the expedition brought a team of 11 civilians, 57 Italians, and 60 Nepalese. The preparation for this expedition was massive, as the team even made use of helicopters.
The mountaineers were landed at the base camp to ensure good health for the ascent. Three helicopters in total were used to transport materials for the ascent. This was quite a controversial move at the time.
The ascent team had five Italians – Claudio Benedetti, Virginio Epis, Fabrizio Innamorati, Rinaldo Carrel, and Mirko Minuzzo. Chief Sherpa Lhakpa Tenzing guided them along with Shambhu Tamang (the youngest Everest climber of the time) and Sonam Gyaljen.
The four-man team led by Lhakpa Tenzing with Carrel, Minuzzo, and Tamang summited the peak on May 5th of, 1973. The rest of the group, with Innamorati, Epis, and Benedetti, led by Sonam, summited two days later.
A documentary named Everest (1974) was also released, covering this expedition.
The second Japanese expedition team (Hisashi Ishiguro and Yasu Kato)
After a successful attempt at summiting Everest, another team duo ventured on the Everest expedition. They were Hisashi Ishiguro, an office worker, and Yasu Kato, a university student. The duo ventured into the mountain and sumitted it on their own via the Southeast ridge route.
They reached the top on the 26th of October 1973.
The first woman climber (Junko Tabei with Ang Tshering Sherpa)
Junko Tabei is a popular Japanese mountaineer and is renowned as the first woman to summit the world’s peak. After Tabei submitted Annapurna back in 1970, the plans for the Everest expedition began. Two Japanese teams had already succeeded submitting the mountain at this point.
There were several preparations made for this. Initially, a two-woman duo group was supposed to ascend the mountain together. But during the initial phase of travel, an avalanche hit the camp at 6300 meters. This led to several climbers being buried under snow and Tabei getting the same fate. She was unconscious for a while but regained consciousness as Sherpas guided her out.
After this misfortunate incident, resources to accompany only one of them were available. Hence, Tabei, led by Ang Tshering Sherpa, was sent for the ascent. After 12 days of the avalanche at the 6300-meter camp Tabei with Sherpa summited the mountain. It was on the 16th of May 1975.
While recalling her accounts of the ascent, Tabei was enraged due to a lack of information about a thin hazardous ridge of ice. Previous expeditors had yet to mention this part of the journey, which was quite dangerous. She explains that passing the ridge was the most stressful experience of her life. This part of the journey needed her to crawl along the piece of ice sideways.
Despite the scare of this gruesome part of the climb and the prior avalanche, Tabei was successful. She set a great precedent and made women worldwide proud.
The second Chinese expedition team (Da Phuntsok, Kunga Pasang, Lhotse, Ngapo Khyen, Ms. Phantog, Samdrup, Sonam Norbu, Tsering Tobgyal, and Sheng-Fu Hou)
After the first attempt from the Chinese in 1960, Everest was never summited via North Col. Another team came to face the world’s peak via the northern route 15 years later. A nine-member Chinese team reached the summit on the 27th of May 1975.
The North ridge climb is still considered a unique approach to the climb as it is tricky. During this expedition, too, the team had to be careful. They used a ladder at the second step, the most challenging part of the North ridge route, to summit the mountain.
The team included eight men and a woman, Ms. Phantog. This made her the first woman to ascend Everest from the Tibetan side and the second woman ever to ascend the mountain.
The mountain’s summit was also measured during this ascent. It ended up measuring at 8848.13 meters.
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