Reaching the summit of Everest on Wyle Cop

 

Another week and another history lesson for me, here at It’s a nomad life in Shrewsbury. Fresh from the framers today we now have another little piece of history to get excited about and I think this one is pretty special! The piece in question is an original Times supplement from 1953, documenting the first ascent of Mount Everest by New Zealander Edmund Hillary, and the Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Realising I knew very little about  what actually happened on the 29th May when the pair reached the summit, I felt it was my duty to find out a little more!

As the Earth’s highest mountain, located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas, (with a peak at 8,848 metres or 29,029 ft above sea level) it is still the ultimate experience for explorers today. So what must it have been like to have been the first to reach the highest point? And, I found myself thinking, when and how did we discover it was the highest point, before anyone had managed to climb it?

So here’s a very brief summary of an epic story! In 1802, the British began the Great Trigonometric Survey of India to determine the location and names of the world's highest mountains. They reached the Himalayan foothills by the 1830s, but Nepal was unwilling to allow the British to enter the country because of suspicions of political aggression. So it was not until 1852, after a number of attempts, that Radhanath Sikdar, an Indian mathematician and surveyor from Bengal, was the first to identify Everest as the world's highest peak, using trigonometric calculations.

The name came next, courtesy of Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India, who named the mountain after his predecessor George Everest. Everest was less than ecstatic about this; he believed that a local name should be used. Despite his protests the name prevailed and Everest, whose summit hosts an international border between Nepal and China, took its name in 1865.

But it isn’t until some time later that the first ascent of Mount Everest took place (after failed attempts in 1921, 22 and 24, when George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made trip from which they never returned).  So Hillary and Tenzing would have had quite a daunting task ahead! But despite the odds they did it – reaching the summit by the south side on the 29th May. According to reports they hugged each other as they reached the summit, took photos and buried some sweets and biscuits in the snow as a Buddhist offering to the gods. They looked for signs of Mallory and Irvine who had disappeared in 1924 but found nothing (Mallory’s body was eventually found in 1999).  

News of the conquest of Mount Everest did not reach the outside world until 2 June, the eve of the Queen's coronation. From that moment on they were committed to the history books – they are both also nationally recognized in Nepal, where annual ceremonies  take place to celebrate their achievement.  And what an achievement it was.

I love the fact that every day I get to see things that have a story to tell. I’ll be sure to remember this particular one as I moan about my walk up Wyle Cop to the shop on a cold morning! (Well I’ll try to…at the very least!).

 

 

 

Victoria Crook

It’s a nomad life

 

You can come and see this piece and lot’s more at It’s a nomad life, 14 Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury www.itsanomadlife.com.

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Vicky Vicky

Vicky runs local antiques business It's a nomad life with her partner Sam Handbury-Madin. The shop, which moved from Wyle Cop to Green Lane in 2015, sells Tribal and Asian art and collectables from around the world. Vicky is a Shropshire lass, who moved back to Shrewsbury in 2008 after time spent in Italy, London and St. Andrews (where she studied archaeology and ancient history). She met her husband Sam on her return and they opened It's a nomad life in 2012, combining their love of travel and old things! Vicky also works as a Freelance Fundraising Consultant.

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