Entity Type:
Norgay, Tenzing (1914-1986) Sherpa
The early life story of ethnic Tibetan Tenzing Norgay is one of remarkable determination and self belief. Starting off as a simple porter and ending up as a lead climber, over a period of nearly twenty years he made sure he was part of every expedition that tried to climb Everest. His ambition began early. By the age of 18 he had left his disapproving parents in the Sherpa homeland and journeyed to Darjeeling in India, where he hoped to be able to join one of the British expeditions to Mt. Everest that were being organised there. Tenzing got himself onto Eric Shipton's 1935 Everest Expedition and his performance was such that he had no trouble in being hired on the following expeditions of 1936 and 1938. Unlike most of his fellow Sherpas of the time for whom, by and large, climbing was just a challenging way of making a living, Tenzing desperately wanted to get to the summit of Mt. Everest: "For in my heart," he said, "I needed to go . . . the pull of Everest was stronger for me than any force on earth." His obsession was so great that he even participated in a clandestine 1947 trip through Tibet to the mountain with solitary Canadian climber Earl Denman, on the remote chance that even this might give him an opportunity to get to the top. He was back on a more conventional expedition in 1952 as climber with the Swiss, when he got within 778 feet short of the summit with Raymond Lambert. By 1953, Tenzing had spent more time on Mt. Everest than any other human being, a fact of which the British were well aware. He was therefore one of the mainstays of their attack on the mountain. After his success, Tenzing received many honors and was feted, among others, by world leaders and heads of state. He was invited everywhere and did much travelling. He became the first Field Director of the newly-established Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, a post that he held for 22 years. Tenzing died in 1986. The procession that followed his funeral bier was more than half a mile long.
Further reading: Touching My Father’s Soul,

Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
Access Points:
Norgay, Tenzing (1914-1986) Sherpa
Related Items:
B004 : The Ascent of Everest
B025 : Man of Everest: The Autobiography of Tenzing