Thursday, March 12, 1998

The Complete History Of Rolex Conquering Mount Everest [Part 3 of 8]

The Complete History
Rolex Conquers Mount Everest
[Part 3 0f 8]

Onward & Upward

Throughout history mankind has had a preoccupation with trying to conquer the unexplored. In 1924, George Mallory, an Englishman from Cheshire tried to climb Everest with his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine. Both Mallory and Irvine are pictured below.

The climbers were last seen just a few hundred meters from the summit and then they disappeared. Nobody knows if they made it to the top. The photo below is the last time Mallory or Irvine were ever seen. If you look closely, you can see them about one third of the way over from the left edge of the photo. In 1999 Mallory's body was discovered.

When somebody asked Mallory why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he famously replied, "because it is there!"

Many other men attempted to climb Everest in 1924 including the group below who posed for the portrait.

Many men have lost their lives attempting to conquer Mount Everest. In the early expeditions, the gentlemen climbers were ill equipped with their tweed suits that did not do a very good job of protecting them from the elements.

The Beekeeper & The Yak Herder

Sir Edmund Hillary was born in Auckland, New Zealand on July 21, 1919. During World War II, Hillary served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as seen in the photo below. As a teen, Edmund Hillary developed a passion for mountain climbing. He took a job as a beekeeper so that in the winter he could climb.

Tenzing Norgay

Tenzing Norgay's early life has conflicting accounts. In his first autobiography he said he was born and brought up in Khumbu, Nepal, but recent research claims he was born in Tibet in Khara Valley. Apparently his family became destitute when their yaks died from disease, and he was sold as a slave to a Sherpa family in Thamey, Nepal.

Tenzing Norgay wrote about the significance of Yak's where he grew up near Everest. Tenzing wrote:

"The land there is harsh and stony; the weather is bitter; but still we have both agriculture and pasturage. But most important are the yaks. From them we get wool for clothing, leather for shoes, dung for fuel, milk, butter and cheese for food. For the Sherpa, as for all high Himalayan people, the yak is the great staple of life. From it a man can get almost everything he needs to nourish him and keep him warm."

I included this photo of a Tibetian Yak for frame of reference. I think Tenzing forgot to mention that Yak's are also used for transportation, for plowing land and perhaps their skin would be used for making bags and gloves.

In this next photo taken with Mount Everest in the background you see a local farmer plowing land with Yaks.

This next photo is of Tenzing as a young man.

This next photo of Tenzing was taken with his first of three wives and two of his daughters.

Tezning tried to climb Mount Everest 7 times before finally making it. In 1952, Tenzing joined two different Swiss Expedition's and in the second expedition, he climbed to within 800 feet of the summit with Swiss climber Raymond Lambert. Lambert and Tenzing made it up to 28,215 feet (8,599 Meters) and had to turn back.

The reason they had to turn back was because when the got very close to the top, they had a tent, but no sleeping bags, so they almost froze to death at night. This was a powerful lesson learned so in the next attempt, Tenzing and Hillary brought sleeping bags.