11.3.5 Sagarmatha
It's been 50 glorious years since the human made the biggest achievement of all times, the conquest of Mt Everest. Its sheer beauty, majestic sight and challenging height has always been a great attraction for all of us.
The mountain was named after Sir George Everest, a British military engineer, who served as surveyor general of India from 1829 AD to 1843 AD when the peak was surveyed. Everest was the first person to record the location and height of the mountain, then known as Peak XV. We in Nepal refer to the mountain as Sagarmatha, meaning "Forehead in the Sky." Speakers of Tibetan languages, including the Sherpa people of northern Nepal, refer to the mountain as Chomolungma, Tibetan for "Goddess Mother of the World."
The height of Mt Everest has been determined to be 8,850 m. The peak's actual height, and the claim that Everest is the highest peak in the world, had long been disputed. But scientific surveys completed in the early 1990s continued to support evidence that Mt Everest is the highest peak in the world. In fact, Mt Everest is rising a few millimeters each year due to geological forces. Global Positioning Technology (GPS) has been installed on Mt Everest for the purpose of detecting slight rates of geological uplift.
The climate of Mt Everest is naturally extreme. In January, the coldest month, the summit temperature averages -36° C (-33° F) and can drop as low as -60° C (-76° F). In July, the warmest month, the average summit temperature is -19° C (-2° F). At no time of the year does the temperature on the summit rise above freezing. In winter and spring the prevailing westerly wind blows against the peak and around the summit. Moisture- laden air rises from the south slopes of the Himalayas and condenses into a white, pennant-shaped cloud pointing east; this "flag cloud" sometimes enables climbers to predict storms.
Numerous expeditions have been conducted to Everest; those who come to Nepal for Everest are not only trekkers but there are people who are hungry for just a glimpse of this unique beauty. Several books have been written and various surveys have been conducted about this mountain. Everest is situated in Nepal-Tibet border and it was once more inaccessible than the Bermuda triangle until May 29, 1953. It was the day when the dreams came true, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the highest point on earth. It all started when the British were given the permission to climb Everest under the leadership of John Hunt who was a master planner. He brilliantly designed and orchestrated the essential equipment, brought together a team of men who had immense potential and organised the whole group in such a way that their effort was crowned with success. It was a wonderful achievement and unique in itself because this successful expedition opened a whole new era of mountaineering and trekking. This achievement is considered to be the greatest not only because it was for the first time but also because at that time there were no such facilities available as now and the rough climate and tough roads were fiercer than ever.
Nobody knew what the roads held and what danger was lying ahead because it was the first ever expedition. But through great hardship an unbelievable success can be earned, and it was proved by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. As Hillary said, "I continued hacking steps along the ridge then up a few more to the right along the ridge and then up a few more to the right …to my great delight I realised we were on top of Mount Everest and that the whole world spread out below us." It was 11.30 am May 29, 1953. Norgay and Hillary reached the highest peak on earth. After that they were treated like superheroes. They earned a celebrity status and their accomplishment was celebrated by the whole people of their respective nation and their achievement was considered a national feat. Now the saga of climbing Everest and setting records was started. Some of them include the climbing of Everest by a woman for the first time and it was done by Japanese lady Junko Tabei. Also Rion Hold Mesner climbed the mighty Everest without oxygen for the first time.
We all know that the saga of Mt Everest is closely related to human bravery in the modern world. And it has become a fantasy to the tourism sector and there has been a great rush to break records on Everest. Currently, friends of Mt Everest are showing their concern about the possible ruining of its ecology and human pressure on this land. With the changing time new questions are rising about Mt Everest. People who really care about Everest are raising new issues concerning the ecology of Everest and its commercialisation. Recently, Sir Edmund Hillary showed his deepest concerns about the commercialisation of Everest. Now climbing Everest does not wholly depend on bravery and skill. Now it has become the game of money-- you hire a porter, preferable a Sherpa, and he take you to the top.
Everest is a source of spiritual inspiration and now it's time to realise it. This Goddess Mother of the World is basically a symbol of adventure and spiritual integrity that is wedded to hardship, patient, experience and pure devotion that leads to a happy and fruitful ending. That is why the commercialisation of Everest is a major headache for the people who believe in all these qualities. During the mega celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the ascent of Mt Everest, nobody's attention was drawn to felicitate the real heroes of the Himalayas.
The saga of Sagarmatha
By Jayendra Acharya