Friday 29 May 2015

'We ate a Kendal Mint Cake...'

On this day in 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Everest. In his diary, Hillary permits himself an exclamation mark:

'Tenzing and I shook hands and he so far forgot himself as to embrace me. It was quite a moment! We took off our O2 and for ten minutes I photographed T holding flags, the various ridges of Everest and the general view. I left a crucifix on top for John Hunt and T made a little hole in the snow and put in some food offerings, lollies and biscuits and chocolate. We ate a Kendal Mint Cake and then put back on our O2. I was a little worried by the time factor so after 15 min on top we turned back at 11.45am.'

When the two men at length arrived back at camp. Hillary summed up the day's work with the words 'Well, we knocked the bastard off.'
 News of the conquest of Everest was sent back to The Times in London (in coded form) by their correspondent with the expedition, James Morris, later to become a justly famous travel writer and historian and, in 1972, to transition into a female identity as Jan Morris.
 Hillary Rodham Clinton, born 1947, was of course named after Sir Edmund by her clairvoyant mother, who sensed that the obscure New Zealand climber and beekeeper had greatness in him.

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