Tenzing Norgay GM OSN PB (/ˈtɛnsɪŋ ˈnɔːrɡeɪ/; Sherpa:
norgyé; 29 May 1914 – 9 May 1986), born Namgyal Wangdi and
often referred to as Sherpa Tenzing, was a Nepali Sherpa
mountaineer. He was one of the first two individuals known to
reach the summit of Mount Everest, which he accomplished with Edmund
Hillary on 29 May 1953. Time named him one of the 100 most
influential people of the 20th century.
1 Early life
3 1952 Swiss
Mount Everest expedition
4 Success on Mount Everest
5 After Everest
7 Personal life
9.1 Art, entertainment, and media
12 External links
There are conflicting accounts of his early life. The account he gave
in his autobiography, accepted for several years, is that he was a
Sherpa born and raised in Tengboche, Khumbu, in northeastern Nepal.
In an interview with All
India Radio in 1985,
Tenzing Norgay said that
his parents came from Tibet, but that he was born in Nepal.[need
quotation to verify] According to many later alternate accounts, he
was born in Tibet, at Tse Chu in the Kama Valley, and spent his
early childhood in Kharta, nearby to the north; Tenzing went to Nepal
as a child to work for a Sherpa family in Khumbu.
Khumbu lies near Mount Everest, which the Tibetans and Sherpas call
Chomolungma, which in
Standard Tibetan means "Holy Mother", or the
goddess of the summit. Norgay was a Nepalese Buddhist; Buddhism is
the traditional religion of the Sherpas and Tibetans.
His exact date of birth is unknown, but he knew it was in late May by
the weather and the crops. After his ascent of Everest on 29 May 1953,
he decided to celebrate his birthday on that day thereafter. His year
of birth, according to the Tibetan Calendar, was the Year of the
Rabbit, making it likely that he was born in 1914.
Norgay was originally called "Namgyal Wangdi", but as a child his name
was changed on the advice of the head lama and founder of Rongbuk
Monastery, Ngawang Tenzin Norbu. "Tenzing Norgay" translates as
"wealthy-fortunate-follower-of-religion". His father, a yak herder,
was Ghang La Mingma (d. 1949), and his mother was Dokmo Kinzom (who
lived to see him climb Everest); he was the 11th of 13 children, most
of whom died young.
Tenzing ran away from home twice in his teens, first to
later Darjeeling, India, at that time the starting point for most
expeditions in eastern Himalaya. He was once sent to Tengboche
Monastery to become a monk, but he decided that was not for him and
departed. At the age of 19, he eventually settled in the Sherpa
community in Toonsong Busty in Darjeeling.
Statue of Norgay at the Himalayan
Norgay received his first opportunity to join an Everest expedition
when he was employed by Eric Shipton, leader of the 1935 British Mount
Everest reconnaissance expedition. As a 20-year-old his chance came
when two of the others failed their medical tests. As a friend of Ang
Tharkay (a Sherpa sirdar who had been on the 1933 British Mount
Everest expedition), Norgay was quickly pushed forward, and his
attractive smile caught the eye of Shipton, who decided to take him
Norgay participated as a high-altitude porter in three official
British attempts to climb Everest from the northern Tibetan side in
the 1930s. On the 1936 expedition, he worked with John Morris. He
also took part in other climbs in various parts of the Indian
subcontinent. For a time in the early 1940s Norgay lived in the
Princely State of
Chitral (that later became a part of
partition of India) as batman to a Major Chapman. Norgay's first wife
died during his tenure there and was buried there. He returned to
Darjeeling with his two daughters during the Indian partition of 1947,
and managed to cross
India by train without a ticket and without being
challenged by wearing one of Major Chapman's old uniforms.
In 1947, Norgay participated in an unsuccessful summit attempt of
Everest. Canadian-born Earl Denman, Ange Dawa Sherpa, and Norgay
Tibet illegally to attempt the mountain; the attempt ended
when a strong storm at 22,000 ft (6,700 m) pounded them. Denman
admitted defeat, and all three turned around and safely returned.
In 1947, Norgay became a sirdar of a Swiss expedition for the first
time, following a magnificent performance in the rescue of Sirdar
Wangdi Norbu who had fallen and been seriously injured. The expedition
reached the main summit of Kedarnath at 22,769 feet (6,940 m) in
the western Garhwal
Himalaya with Norgay being one of the summit
Mount Everest expedition
Main article: 1952 Swiss
Mount Everest expedition
In 1952, he took part in the two Swiss expeditions led by Edouard
Wyss-Dunant (spring) and Gabriel Chevalley (autumn), the first serious
attempts to climb Everest from the southern (Nepalese) side, after two
previous US and British reconnaissance expeditions in 1950 and 1951.
Raymond Lambert and
Tenzing Norgay were able to reach a height of
about 8,595 metres (28,199 ft) on the southeast ridge, setting a
new climbing altitude record. The expedition opened up a new route
on Everest that was successfully climbed the next year. Norgay and
Raymond Lambert reached on 28 May the then-record height of 8,600
metres (28,215 ft), and this expedition, during which Norgay
was for the first time considered a full expedition member ("the
greatest honour that had ever been paid me")  forged a lasting
friendship between Norgay and his Swiss friends, in particular Raymond
Lambert. During the autumn expedition, the team was stopped by bad
weather after reaching an altitude of 8,100 metres (26,575 ft).
Success on Mount Everest
Main article: 1953 British
Mount Everest expedition
In 1953, Norgay took part in John Hunt's expedition, the latter's
seventh expedition to Everest. A member of the team was Edmund
Hillary, who had a near-miss following a fall into a crevasse but was
saved from hitting the bottom by Norgay's prompt action in securing
the rope using his ice axe, which led Hillary to consider him the
climbing partner of choice for any future summit attempt.
The Hunt expedition totalled over 400 people, including 362 porters,
20 Sherpa guides, and 10,000 lbs of baggage, and like many
such expeditions, was a team effort.
The expedition set up base camp in March 1953. Working slowly, they
set up their penultimate camp at the South Col, at 25,900 feet (7,890
m). On 26 May,
Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans attempted the climb,
but turned back when Evans' oxygen system failed. The pair had reached
the South Summit, coming within 300 vertical feet (91 m) of the
summit. Hunt then directed Norgay and Hillary to go for the
Snow and wind held the pair up at the
South Col for two days. They set
out on 28 May with a support trio comprising Ang Nyima, Alfred
Gregory, and George Lowe. Norgay and Hillary pitched a tent at 27,900
feet (8,500 m) on 28 May while their support group returned down the
mountain. On the following morning Hillary discovered that his boots
had frozen solid outside the tent. He spent two hours warming them
before he and Tenzing attempted the final ascent, wearing 30-pound
(14 kg) packs. The last part of the ascent comprised a
40-foot (12 m) rock face later named the "Hillary Step". Hillary
saw a means to wedge his way up a crack in the face between the rock
wall and the ice, and Norgay followed. From there, the following
effort was relatively simple. They reached Everest's 29,028 ft
(8,848 m) summit, the highest point on Earth, at 11:30 a.m.
As Hillary put it, "A few more whacks of the ice axe in the firm snow,
and we stood on top."
Edmund Hillary greets Tenzing Norgay, circa 1971.
They spent only about 15 minutes at the summit. Hillary took the
famous photo of Norgay posing with his ice-axe, but since Norgay had
never used a camera, Hillary's ascent went unrecorded. However,
according to Norgay's autobiography Man of Everest, when Norgay
offered to take Hillary's photograph Hillary declined – "I
motioned to Hillary that I would now take his picture. But for some
reason he shook his head; he did not want it". Additional
photos were taken looking down the mountain, in order to re-assure
that they had made it to the top and to document that the ascent was
not faked. The two had to take care on the descent after
discovering that drifting snow had covered their tracks, complicating
the task of retracing their steps. The first person they met was Lowe,
who had climbed up to meet them with hot soup.
Afterwards, Norgay was met with great adulation in
Nepal and India.
Hillary and Hunt were knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, while Norgay
George Medal for his efforts on the expedition.
It has been suggested that Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru
refused permission for Norgay to be knighted.
It has been a long road ... From a mountain coolie, a bearer of
loads, to a wearer of a coat with rows of medals who is carried about
in planes and worries about income tax.
— Tenzing Norgay
Norgay and Hillary were the first people to conclusively set foot on
the summit of Mount Everest, but journalists were persistently
repeating the question: "Which of the two men had the right to the
glory of being the first one, and who was merely the second, the
follower?" Colonel Hunt, the expedition leader, declared, "They
reached it together, as a team."
Tenzing Norgay became the first Director of Field Training of the
Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, when it was set up
May (you) climb from peak to peak
In January 1975, with permission of the King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye
Wangchuck, Norgay served as sirdar (guide) for the first American
tourist party allowed into the country. Brought together by a
company then called Mountain Travel (now called Mountain
Travel-Sobek), the group first met Norgay in
India before beginning
the trek. The official trek began in Paro, northern
included a visit to
Tiger's Nest (Paro Taktsang), the ancient Buddhist
monastery, before returning to
Nepal and Sikkim. Norgay even
introduced his group to the King of
Sikkim (the last king of Sikkim,
Sikkim is now a part of India) and also brought them to his home in
India for a farewell celebration.
In 1978 Norgay founded
Tenzing Norgay Adventures, a company
providing trekking adventures in the Himalayas. As of 2003, the
company was run by his son Jamling Tenzing Norgay, who himself reached
the summit of Everest in 1996.
On 10 May 1984 Tenzing Norgay, together with Grp Capt A. J. S. Grewal,
Principal of the Himalayan
Mountaineering Institute, attended the 10th
Anniversary celebrations of The School of Adventure, Mysore, Karnataka
held at the
Mysore Institution of Engineers' auditorium.[citation
In 1938, after Norgay's third Everest expedition as a porter, the
Himalayan Club awarded him its Tiger Medal for high-altitude work.
On 7 June 1953, it was announced that the newly crowned Queen
Elizabeth II wished to recognize Norgay's achievements, and on 1 July
10 Downing Street, announced that following consultation with the
Nepal the Queen had approved awarding him the
George Medal. He also received, along with the rest of the
Everest party, the Queen
Elizabeth II Coronation Medal.[citation
King Tribhuvan of
Nepal presented him with the Order of the
Star of Nepal, 1st Class (Supradipta-Manyabara-Nepal-Tara).
In 1959, the Government of
India awarded him the Padma Bhushan, the
third highest civilian award of India.
Norgay also received several other decorations through his
In May 2013, Norgay's grandson, Tashi Tenzing, said he believed his
grandfather should have been knighted, not just given "a bloody
In September 2013, the Government of
Nepal proposed naming a 7,916
metres (25,971 ft) mountain in
Tenzing Peak in Norgay's
In July 2015, the highest known, 3.4-kilometer-high, mountain range on
the dwarf planet
Pluto was named Tenzing Montes.
The house in
Darjeeling where Norgay spent his last years
Norgay was married three times. His first wife, Dawa Phuti, died young
in 1944. They had a son, Nima Dorje, who died at the age of four, and
two daughters: Pem Pem, whose son, Tashi Tenzing, climbed Everest, and
Nima, who married a Filipino graphic designer, Noli Galang.
Norgay's second wife was Ang Lahmu, a cousin of his first wife. They
had no children, but she was a foster mother to his daughters.
His third wife was Dakku, whom he married while his second wife was
still alive, as allowed by Sherpa custom (see polygyny). They had
three sons (Norbu, Jamling and Dhamey), and one daughter, Deki.
Jamling would join Peter Hillary, Edmund Hillary's son, in climbing
Everest in 2003 on the 50th anniversary of their fathers' climb.
Other relatives include Norgay's nephews
Nawang Gombu and Topgay, who
took part in the 1953 Everest expedition; his grandsons, Tashi
Tenzing, who lives in Sydney, Australia, and Tenzing, Kalden and
Yonden Trainor. Tenzing Trainor rose to fame on Liv and Maddie.
Tenzing Norgay memorial
Norgay died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Darjeeling, West Bengal,
India, on May 9, 1986 at age 71. His remains were cremated in
Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, his favorite
haunt. His widow Dakku died in 1992.
Art, entertainment, and media
Amar Chitra Katha of
India published a children's comic book
about Tenzing Norgay.
Gardner E. Lewis wrote a humorous poem called "Poem — Neither
Hilláryous Norgay" (1965), about the pair and their achievement.
One of the buildings at Everest Court,
Mottingham in Kent,
named after him.
In January 2008,
Lukla Airport was renamed Tenzing-Hillary Airport in
honour of the pair and their achievement.
Tenzing Montes is the name of an icy mountain range on the surface of
Red pandas at several zoos are named in his honour.
Tenzing Norgay and the Sherpas of Everest — Sherpa Tenzing
Norgay Nepalese Mountaineer- Information on Tenzing Norgay".
tenzingasianholidays.com. Retrieved 2 March 2014. [dead link]
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also published as The Tiger of the Snows
^ Sonam G. Sherpa (27 August 2013). "
Tenzing Norgay Sherpa's
interview, in Tibetan, with All
India Radio, Kurersong, India".
Retrieved 27 March 2018 – via YouTube.
^ a b Norgay, Jamling Tenzing; Coburn, Broughton (2002).
""Introduction" written by Jon Krakauer, February 2001". Touching My
Father's Soul: a Sherpa's Journey to the Top of Everest. Forward by
His Holiness the Dalai Lama. San Francisco, California:
HarperSanFrancisco. pp. XVI. ISBN 0062516876.
OCLC 943113647. On May 9, 1986, while Jamling was still enrolled
at Northland, he received word that his father had abruptly collapsed
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theguardian.com. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
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thought – 10/10/2005". Abc.net.au. 10 October 2005. Retrieved 21
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^ Norgay left chocolates in the snow as an offering, and Hillary left
a cross that he had been given.
^ "The Photographs". Imagingeverest.rgs.org. 29 May 1953. Retrieved 21
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conqueror of Everest". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
^ Giles, Kea (4 April 2010). "Dragonfly Wars: "Branding
Bhutan" — or the story of a "Trek through Time"".
Keagiles.blogspot.com. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
^ a b "Trek through Time". Daily Camera. Boulder, CO. 28 June 1982.
pp. 1C, 3C.
^ "Welcome to the site of
Tenzing Norgay Adventures".
Tenzing-norgay.com. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
George Medal for Tensing — Award Approved by the Queen". The
Times (52663). London. 2 July 1953. p. 6.
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a comparatively obscure but high civilian award for gallantry"
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^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
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from Britain". The Guardian. 29 May 2013.
^ "Mount Everest: Hillary and Tenzing to have peaks named after them".
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India Today. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
^ "Daku Norgay". orlandosentinel.com. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
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original on 5 January 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
^ Cole, William, ed. (1965). The Fireside Book Of Humorous Poetry.
Hamish Hamilton. p. 388.
^ "Introducing Tenzing Hillary Airport — Travel Blog". World
Hum. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
Pluto Features Given First Official Names". NASA. 7 September 2017.
Retrieved 25 September 2017.
^ "Knoxville Zoo's Red Panda Cubs Officially Named - City of K..."
www.knoxvilletn.gov. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
^ "San Francisco Zoo's Adorable New Red Panda Named "Tenzing"".
nbcbayarea.com. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
^ "Tenzing Norgay's family learns of red panda namesake - Hamilton
Zoo". hamiltonzoo.co.nz. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
Red pandas now classified as endangered - Hamilton Zoo".
hamiltonzoo.co.nz. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
Mount Everest The Reconnaissance 1935 (2005)
George Band, Everest Exposed (2005), an account of the 1953 expedition
Tashi Tenzing and Judy Tenzing,
Tenzing Norgay and Sherpas of Everest
Ed Webster, Snow in the Kingdom (2000)
Ed Douglas, Tenzing: Hero of Everest (2003)
Jamling Tenzing Norgay, Touching My Father's Soul (2002)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tenzing Norgay.
Tenzing Norgay, Royal Geographical Society
Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Foundation
Tenzing Norgay, NNDB
Padma Bhushan award recipients (1954–1959)
Homi J. Bhabha
Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar
Mahadeva Iyer Ganapati
Jnan Chandra Ghosh
Maithili Sharan Gupt
Ajudhiya Nath Khosla
Kariamanickam Srinivasa Krishnan
Husain Ahmad Madani
Vallathol Narayana Menon
A. Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar
Palden Thondup Namgyal
V. Narahari Rao
M. S. Subbulakshmi
Kodandera Subayya Thimayya
Fateh Chand Badhwar
Lalit Mohan Banerjee
Suniti Kumar Chatterji
V. R. Khanolkar
Sunder Das Khungar
Prana Krushna Parija
Madapati Hanumantha Rao
Maneklal Sankalchand Thacker
Rukmini Devi Arundale
Nawab Alam yar jung Bahadur
C. K. Nayudu
Bhikhan Lal Atreya
Hazari Prasad Dwivedi
Mushtaq Hussain Khan
Lakshmi N. Menon
Radha Kumud Mukherjee
Andal Venkatasubba Rao
Shrikrishna Narayan Ratanjankar
Shyam Nandan Sahay
Govind Sakharam Sardesai
K. A. Nilakanta Sastri
D. P. Roy Choudhury
N. S. Hardikar
Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar
K. P. S. Menon
A. C. N. Nambiar
Poola Tirupati Raju
Rao Raja Hanut Singh
Rustom Jal Vakil
Surya Narayan Vyas
Darashaw Nosherwan Wadia
Ramdhari Singh Dinkar
Ali Yavar Jung
Hansa Jivraj Mehta
Pammal Sambandha Mudaliar
Tiruppattur R. Venkatachala Murthi
Dhanvanthi Rama Rau
Nirmal Kumar Sidhanta
Bhargavaram Viththal Varerkar
# Posthumous conferral
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BNF: cb14485175f (data)