Celebrating a special anniversary in the Himalaya

27 May 2013

Celebrating a special anniversary in the Himalayas  

by Sarah Berry.

It was 60 years ago that climbers first achieved the impossible – reaching the summit of Mt Everest.

The journey to the top of the world

At 11.30am on 29 May 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to set foot on the summit of Mount Everest. This was no simple achievement – the journey that led to this success started over thirty years earlier.

The first serious investigation into reaching the summit of Everest was in 1921 and following that were no less than 15 expeditions. The most successful was a 1952 Swiss expedition - Tenzing Norgay and his partner turned back just 250 metres from the summit.

A British expedition in 1953 partnered Tenzing with New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary. The expedition involved over 400 people, and nine camps were established as the expedition made its way up Everest to a final high camp. After the first summit team turned back 100 metres from the top, Hillary and Tenzing were told to make their attempt.

In the freezing hours pre-dawn, Tenzing and Hillary set off up the mountain. At 9am they reached a vertical rock face - Hillary ascended this by wedging himself in a crack and edging his way up. Tenzing followed and from there it wasn't long before the pair stood on to the summit.

They didn't stay there for long – a couple of photographs to prove the ascent and a quick offering to the mountain, and they started their precarious way back down. But the mountain had been conquered and the way had been paved for adventurers for years to come.

Nepal – the birthplace of adventure travel

It was these trail-blazing expeditioners that opened the way for adventure travel. People wanted to be amongst these majestic peaks, but without knowledge of the trails, mountain safety and the local language, the Himalaya was a difficult place to visit.

In the 1970s, a new idea emerged - the first guided treks in Nepal began operation. Leaders took small groups of people trekking – people who wanted to experience the adventure of the Himalaya for themselves. The idea took hold and the trekking industry has grown enormously since then, making Nepal a popular and much-loved destination.

And from this remote outpost, the concept of guided adventure travel spread. Tours started operation in Asia, followed by Europe and the Americas. Now almost every country in the world is visited by small group adventures – people learning about a country and its culture through travel.

Travelling and trekking in Nepal today

The heart of the Himalaya range, Nepal is a truly spectacular destination. Whether exploring the busy backstreets of Kathmandu, absorbing the colourful atmosphere at the temples, or craning your neck to see where the mountains brush the sky, visiting Nepal is a unique experience.

As a destination, Nepal has the lot. It's a remote and exotic location. It has a friendly and welcoming local culture. It has a spectacular mountain range, unsurpassed in the world. There is great active adventure to be had - trekking in remote areas, along local mountain trails, sharing the pathways with donkeys, porters and local villagers. No cars, no technology, no nothing, except welcoming people, a simple lifestyle and spectacular scenery. It is a truly special, peaceful, beautiful, magical place. It is out-there adventure at its best.