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Tenzing Norgay

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Tenzing Norgay
Tenzing Norgay in Sweden (1967)
Personal information
Birth nameNamgyal Wangdi
Main disciplineMountaineer
Born(1914-05-29)29 May 1914
Khumbu, Solukhumbu District, Sagarmatha Zone, Nepal
Died9 May 1986(1986-05-09) (aged 71)
Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
Starting age19 years
Starting disciplinePorter
Notable ascentsFirst ascent of Mount Everest, 1953
Famous partnershipsEdmund Hillary
SpouseDawa Phuti (m. ? - 1944 )
Ang Lahmu (m. ? - ? )
Dakku (m. ? - ? )
ChildrenNima Dorje, Pem Pem, Nima, Jamling, Norbu, Deki & Dhamey
Tenzing Norgay

Tenzing Norgay (May 29, 1914 – May 9, 1986) was a Sherpa climber. Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first people to reach the top of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. During his life he had several wives, as it is part of Sherpa lifestyle. Norgay was born in Kharta Valley, Nepal. He died aged 71 in Darjeeling, India.

Early Life[change | change source]

There are different views about his early life. The account that he gave in his first autobiography, accepted for several years, is that he was a Sherpa born and brought up in Khumbu in Nepal. However more recent research has led to the claim that he was born a Tibetan in Kharta valley, Tibet, but his family were left destitute when their yaks were killed by disease, and he was sold as a bonded servant to a Sherpa family in Thamey in Nepal. Khumbu lies near Mount Everest, which the Tibetans and Sherpas call Chomolungma which in Tibetan means Mother Goddess of the Earth. His exact date of birth is not known, but he knew it was in late May by the weather and the crops. After his ascent of Everest on 29 May, he decided to celebrate his birthday on that day thereafter.

He was originally called "Namgyal Wangdi", but as a child his name was changed on the advice of the head lama and founder of the famous 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.

He ran away from home twice in his teens, first to Kathmandu and later Darjeeling, and, at age 19, eventually settled in the Sherpa community in Too Song Bhusti in Darjeeling, West Bengal, India.

One of his autobiographies is Tiger of the snows: The Autobiography of Tenzing of Everest, written in 1955.

Journeys[change | change source]

Tenzing Norgay had been on several attempts to reach the top of Mount Everest. Two of the attempts were stopped by bad weather which caused them to turn around. One of failed attempts was in 1935 with Eric Shipton. Eventually, after 6 failure attempts, Norgay finally reached the top of Mount Everest in 1953 along with Sir Edmund Hillary. They came back down from the top of the mountain on May 29, 1953 .

After Mount Everest[change | change source]

Tenzing later became director of field training for the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. In 1978 he started Tenzing Norgay Adventures, a company providing trekking adventures in the Himalaya.

As of 2003 the company was run by his son Jamling Tenzing Norgay, who himself reached the summit of Everest in 1996.

He was honored with the prestigious Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, in 1959.

The Government of India instituted the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards in his honour, awarded annually.

Death[change | change source]

Tenzing Norgay died of a cerebral hemorrhage on 9 May 1986.