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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

A Nepali mountaineer finds inspiration in his father’s Everest legacy

“Jamling Tenzing Norgay described his father, a Sherpa who, alongside Edmund Hillary, was the first to conquer the world’s tallest mountain in 1953, as his hero, saying, ‘I wanted to become just like him.'”

In Hong Kong, families typically head to the beach or explore bustling cities for vacations, but for Jamling Tenzing Norgay’s family, their destination was always the mountains.

“We often trekked along breathtaking ridges with my father,” recounted Tenzing, whose father, Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa of Nepalese-Indian descent, famously ascended Mount Everest alongside New Zealand’s Edmund Hillary in 1953, marking them as the first confirmed climbers to reach its summit.

From a young age, Tenzing’s father instilled in him a deep passion for mountaineering. “I always aimed to climb Everest because my father was my ultimate role model,” shared Tenzing, now 59, in an interview with NBC News in Hong Kong this month. “He was my hero, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”

In 1996, Tenzing fulfilled his Everest dream, conquering the 29,032-foot peak. “I meticulously prepared for this climb throughout my life, both physically and mentally,” he reflected, his achievement later documented in the 1998 IMAX film “Everest.”

Edmund Hillary, left, with Tenzing Norgay in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 1953.

Reflecting on the changes to Everest since his father’s historic ascent, Tenzing noted advancements in equipment and communication that have made the mountain more accessible yet increasingly congested. Recent years have seen viral images of long lines of climbers, leading to dangerous delays and tragic accidents. “The mountain has become more deadly with the sheer number of people attempting it,” he remarked.

Tenzing’s own ascent in 1996 coincided with one of Everest’s deadliest years, claiming twelve lives due to harsh weather conditions. In recent times, efforts to mitigate environmental impact have included rigorous clean-up campaigns, with the Nepali army removing substantial amounts of waste, human remains, and enforcing new waste management rules for climbers.

Despite these challenges, Tenzing remains dedicated to sharing his expertise as a veteran mountaineer, guiding expeditions across the Himalayas and educating climbers on local culture and history. “I take pride in my country,” he expressed, “and in welcoming those who are drawn to our mountains time and again.”

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