Sunday, April 03, 2005

Time 100: Heroes & Icons - Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay

Time 100: Heroes & Icons - Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay. The twenty most influential heroes and icons of the 20th century as selected by Time Magazine. This article focuses on the famous mountain climbers who conquered Mount Everest.

From the site:

On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first human beings to conquer Mount Everest--Chomolungma, to its people — at 29,028 ft. the highest place on earth. By any rational standards, this was no big deal. Aircraft had long before flown over the summit, and within a few decades literally hundreds of other people from many nations would climb Everest too. And what is particularly remarkable, anyway, about getting to the top of a mountain?

Geography was not furthered by the achievement, scientific progress was scarcely hastened, and nothing new was discovered. Yet the names of Hillary and Tenzing went instantly into all languages as the names of heroes, partly because they really were men of heroic mold but chiefly because they represented so compellingly the spirit of their time. The world of the early 1950s was still a little punch-drunk from World War II, which had ended less than a decade before. Everything was changing. Great old powers were falling, virile new ones were rising, and the huge, poor mass of Asia and Africa was stirring into self-awareness. Hillary and Tenzing went to the Himalayas under the auspices of the British Empire, then recognizably in terminal decline. The expedition was the British Everest Expedition, 1953, and it was led by Colonel John Hunt, the truest of true English gentlemen. It was proper to the historical moment that one of the two climbers immortalized by the event came from a remote former colony of the Crown and the other from a nation that had long served as a buffer state of the imperial Raj.

No comments: