The Roof of the World

Everyone has heard of it and more people are trying to climb it. Mt Everest is a destination anyone with an adventurous spirit plans to visit. In fact, so many people go today that queues form as people wait to reach the summit. When the world’s highest peak is something you have to line up for, it is easy to become unmoved about the feat of conquering the mountain. But don’t forget some of the remarkable stories of heroism involved in getting to the ‘roof of the world’.

Most of us know about Tenzig Norgay and Edmund Hillary’s ascent in 1953, but it wasn’t the first attempt. And according to some, they may not have been the first to reach the top, just the first to come back alive. In 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine tried to reach Everest’s summit. Mallory and Irvine left on 4th June 1924 and four days later were seen by a climber, Noel Odell, hiking either the First or Second Step of Everest.

This is where the questions are. Odell believed they climbed the Second Step in five minutes but many climbers since have said the step is too difficult to climb. If they did pass the second step, there is a chance they reached the top, which is what Odell believed. Since then many experts have given their opinions. Some suggest the men’s clothing would not have protected them or that Mallory was not a good enough mountaineer to climb the Second Step. Sadly, Mallory never lived to tell his story. He and Irvine disappeared. Mallory’s body was not seen again until 1999 – 75 years after his fateful climb.

If something is ‘cut short’ it ends before it is supposed to. ‘Our holiday was cut short when my son broke his foot and we had to go home.’

In 1975 a Japanese climber named Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the top of Mt Everest. Tabei was part of an all-woman expedition, but her attempt was almost cut short. Twelve days before she beat the mountain, the mountain almost beat her when an avalanche buried her and her team. Fortunately, a Sherpa dug her out, though she did lose consciousness. Remarkably, Tabei didn’t quit and continued up the mountain and into history.

One of the most famous climbs is the first without oxygen by Reinhold Messner. The Tyrolean mountaineer resolved to do what many thought was impossible. No climb had been made without supplementary oxygen. The amount of oxygen at this altitude is one third at sea level. The heart has to work much harder to make sure oxygen is moved around the body. More red blood cells are produced to ensure more oxygen is carried. But this is stressful for the heart because the blood is now thicker and harder to move. People have died of heart attacks on the mountain. Through a combination of drive, stamina, fitness and what must have been sheer will, Messner and his climbing partner Peter Habeler were the first to breathe the pure air up there.

Over the last fifty years, there are fewer firsts to achieve. But records are being broken. One of the most impressive is the climb of Pemba Dorjee Sherpa. He made the climb from approximately 5,200 meters to 8,848 in eight hours and 10 minutes in 2004.

If something ‘exerts a pull’ it has almost a power over you to make you want to do something.

Everest will continue to exert a pull on adventurers across the world. While its popularity is a little less because we can travel more, it is valuable to remember that it wasn’t so long ago that conquering the mountain was an act of greatness.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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The Roof of the World Quiz: Medium

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Everyone knows it and more people are trying to climb it. Mt Everest is a place for anyone with an adventurous spirit. So many people go today that queues form as people wait to reach the top. These days it is easy to be unmoved by the feat of conquering the mountain. But don’t forget some of the amazing stories of heroism.

Most of us know about Tenzig Norgay and Edmund Hillary’s ascent in 1953, but it wasn’t the first attempt. They were just the first to come back alive. In 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine tried to reach Everest’s summit. Mallory and Irvine left on 4th June 1924 and four days later were seen by a climber, Noel Odell, hiking either the First or Second Step of Everest.

This is where the questions are. Odell believed they climbed the Second Step in five minutes but many climbers thought the step is too difficult to climb. If they did pass the second step, there is a chance they reached the top, which is what Odell believed. Some experts suggest the men’s clothing didn’t protect them enough or that Mallory was not a very good climber. Sadly, Mallory never lived to tell his story. He and Irvine disappeared. Mallory’s body was not seen again until 1999 – 75 years later.

The first woman to reach the top of Mt. Everest was a Japanese climber named Junko Tabei in 1975. Tabei was part of an all-woman expedition, but her attempt almost failed. Twelve days before she beat the mountain, the mountain almost beat her when an avalanche buried her and her team. Fortunately, a Sherpa dug her out, though she did lose consciousness. Remarkably, Tabei didn’t quit and continued up the mountain and into history.

One of the most famous climbs is the first without oxygen by Reinhold Messner. The Tyrolean mountaineer did something others thought was impossible. In high altitudes, the heart has to work much harder to make sure oxygen is moved around the body. More red blood cells are produced to ensure more oxygen is carried. But this is stressful for the heart because the blood is now thicker and harder to move. People died of heart attacks on the mountain. But Messner and his climbing partner Peter Habeler were the first to breathe the pure air up there.

Over the last 50 years, there are less broken records. But one of the most impressive is the climb of Pemba Dorjee Sherpa. He made the climb from approximately 5,200 meters to 8,848 in eight hours and 10 minutes in 2004.

If something ‘exerts a pull’ it has almost a power over you to make you want to do something.

Everest will continue to exert a pull on adventurers across the world. While its popularity is less because we can travel more, it is valuable to remember that it wasn’t so long ago that conquering the mountain was an act of greatness.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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The Roof of the World Quiz: Mild

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Everyone has heard of it and an increasing number of people are trying to climb it. Mt Everest is a destination anyone with an adventurous spirit plans to visit. In fact, so many people go today that queues form as people wait to reach the summit. When the world’s highest peak is something you have to line up for, it is easy to become blasé about the feat of conquering the mountain and forget some of the remarkable stories of heroism involved in getting to the ‘roof of the world’.

Most of us know about Tenzig Norgay and Edmund Hillary’s ascent in 1953, but it wasn’t the first attempt. And according to some, they may not have been the first to reach the top, simply the first to come back alive. In 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine tried to reach Everest’s summit, just three years after the Kingdom of Tibet opened its doors to foreigners. Mallory and Irvine set off on 4th June 1924 and four days later were spotted by a climber, Noel Odell, in a support role surmounting either the First or Second Step of Everest.

Herein lies the debate. Odell believed they climbed the Second Step in five minutes whereas many climbers since have said the step is too difficult to climb. If they did pass the second step, there is a chance they reached the top, which is what Odell believed. Since then many experts have weighed in, suggesting that the men’s clothing would not have protected them or that Mallory was not a good enough mountaineer to climb the Second Step. Sadly, Mallory never survived to tell his story. He and Irvine disappeared into the clouds. Mallory’s body was not seen again until 1999 – 75 years after his fateful climb.

Interestingly it would not be until 1975 when two British people would reach the summit. (Edmund Hillary’s expedition was organized by the British but Hillary was from New Zealand.) Perhaps more noteworthy was that this year, a British man named Chris Bonington led a successful ascent of the southern face for the first time. Norgay and Hillary had ascended by the South Col, but not the South Face, whose ‘Rock Band’ had prevented climbers getting to the top.

That same year a Japanese climber Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the top of Mt Everest. Tabei was part of an all-woman expedition, but her ascent was almost cut short. Twelve days before she beat the mountain, the mountain almost beat her when an avalanche buried her and her team. Fortunately, a Sherpa dug her out, though she did lose consciousness. Remarkably, Tabei didn’t turn back and continued up the mountain and into history.

One of the most celebrated climbs is the first without oxygen by Reinhold Messner. The Tyrolean mountaineer resolved to achieve what many thought was impossible. No climb had been made without supplementary oxygen. The amount of oxygen at this altitude is one third at sea level. The blood vessels narrow and the heart has to work much harder to ensure that this vital gas is carried around the body. More red blood cells are produced to ensure more oxygen is carried but this places more stress on the heart because the blood is now thicker and thus harder to pump. People have died of heart attacks on the mountain. Yet through a combination of drive, stamina, fitness and what must have been sheer will, Messner and his climbing partner Peter Habeler were the first to take a gasp of the pure rarefied air up there.

Over the last 50 years, there are fewer firsts to achieve. Many countries can claim to finally have one of their citizens climb Mt Everest for the first time. But while the number of firsts might be thinning to resemble the air around the mountain, records are being broken. One of the most impressive is the climb of Pemba Dorjee Sherpa. He made the climb from approximately 5,200 meters to 8,848 in eight hours and 10 minutes in 2004. Even more remarkably, he made the climb five days after another ascent.

If something ‘exerts a pull’ it has almost a power over you to make you want to do something.

Everest will continue to exert a pull on adventurers across the world. While its popularity is in some ways a reflection of our increased ability to travel, it is worthwhile to remember that it wasn’t so long ago that conquering the mountain was an act of greatness.

Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia

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The Roof of the World Quiz: Spicy

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