Exploration and Settlement

Northwest Passage

Who was the first to reach Mount Everest‘s summit?

New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-) was the first person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Everest, in the Himalaya Mountains, between Nepal and Tibet, rises nearly five and a half miles (29,028 feet) above sea level.

After numerous climbers made attempts on Everest between 1921 and 1952, Hillary reached the top on May 29, 1953, as part of a British-led expedition; he was followed by fellow climber Tenzing Norgay (1914–1986), a Nepalese Sherpa. Hillary took a picture of Tenzing at the summit, but Tenzing did not know how to work the camera so there is no picture of Hillary. The “Sir” was added to Hillary’s name by Queen Elizabeth II (1926-), who took great pleasure in the fact that the triumph on Everest had been achieved by a British expedition. Having been crowned on June 2, 1953, it was one of her first official acts as queen. The mountain was named for another Briton, Sir George Everest (1790–1866), who served as a British surveyor-general of India from 1830 to 1843. (Tibetans call the mountain Chomolungma, and the Nepalese call it Sagarmatha.)


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