Reaching the Summit – in Hillary’s own words
George, Greg, Tenzing and I plus eight Sherpas (five to South Col and three Ridge men – Ang Nima, Pemba and Ang Pemba) set off for South Col. I led all way and Tenzing and I went pretty quickly. Things were going all right so we went on ahead. At 9.30 saw our first view of two ropes of two on ridge above the couloir (John away at 7 am with Da Namgyal. John on 4 litres and Da Namgyal on 4 litres. Tom and Charles a lot of trouble with closed circuit and finally away at 7.50.
Got great thrill from watching progress. Tom and Charles surged ahead but John soon stopped and dumped loads about 150ft above Swiss ridge camp – dump at about 27,350ft. Tenzing and I reached South Col in 2 ¾ hours. Saw John and Da Namgyal descending and went and met them and assisted them back to camp. John was very exhausted. The other boys duly arrived but three ridge Sherpas trailed the field by miles. Five South Col types had gone exceptionally well. Da Tenzing, Dawa Tondup (2nd time), Topke (2nd time), Ang Norbu (2nd time) Annullu (2nd time). They returned to VII at 1 pm.
Tom and Charles disappeared over South Summit – what an achievement. At 3.30 pm Tom and Charles appeared out of the mist and seemed very tired and exhausted. Tom rather disappointed at not having gone on but Charles convinced that if they had they wouldn’t have returned. They both painted gloomy pictures of the summit ridge.
It was blowing furiously and extremely miserable on the Col.”
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Auckland Museum thanks the Hillary family for their permission to reproduce these excerpts from Sir Edmund Hillary’s diary.
Visit Auckland Museum’s exhibition - From the Summit – Hillary’s Enduring Legacy, 19 April – 29 September 2013, Sainsbury Horrocks Pictorial Gallery level two, free.