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In London, the Everest fever peaks

BHAGIRATH YOGI in LONDON


News that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had set foot on the world's highest peak reached London on 2 June 1953, the day of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The expedition was lead by Briton, John Hunt, who headed the Mount Everest Committee formed by the Royal Geographical Society and the Alpine Club which had mounted nine unsuccessful attempts to Mt Everest between 1921 and 1953.

The Times newspaper which broke the story for the first time, and The Guardian have published special supplements in the run up to the 29 May commemorations here. The Financial Times and other newspapers have looked at the development of Himalayan mountaineering after 1953. The London IMAX and Science Museum are premiering the film, Everest, directed by Greg MacGillivray and David Breashears. The shows are already booked till 15 June. The Royal Geographical Society and the Atlas Gallery are putting up an exhibition of the first photographs of the Mt Everest ever taken.

Then, there are several black tie events including a Royal Gala evening organised by the charity, Mount Everest Foundation with tickets priced up to ?150 each. Queen Elizabeth and others are expected to attend the event at the Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square, London. Edmund Hillary was invited, but he declined, preferring to be in Nepal for the anniversary. Books are being launched and souvenirs have hit the market, including a ?395 "Legacy Pen" by Sheaffer with a laser-engraved inscription in Nepali.

The Royal Geographical Society (RGS) has dispatched a collection of 84 prints from its Everest Archive to Nepal for the 'Imaging Everest' exhibition at the British Council in Kathmandu next week. Following the exhibition, the prints will be on display at the International Mountaineering Museum in Pokhara. The pictures can also be viewed at www.rgs.org/imagingeverest.

"We hope the current focus on Mount Everest will raise awareness about the shared values of mountains, both for mountain communities and also for those who have the privilege of visiting them," says Sir Ron Cooke of the Royal Geographical Society.

The RGS is using the anniversary to look at the environmental and social changes in the Himalaya in the last 50 years, and to evaluate eco-tourism success stories. Rita Gardner, a director at the RGS says she is proud that the centre's archives can be shared with the world during the anniversary. "Hopefully this will contribute to our understanding of the changes that have taken place in the last 50 years," she told us.

A seven-member BBC news team, led by its environment and science correspondent, Tom Heap, is preparing to transmit live broadcasts from Base Camp on 29 May. A camera will be placed on Kala Pathar along with a three-mile microwave link back down the mountain to a satellite dish. National Geographic channel is re-broadcasting its documentary Surviving Everest on 29 May. In the film, the sons of three Everest summiteers, Peter Hillary, Jamling Norgay and Brent Bishop will commemorate their fathers' astonishing feat.

British mountaineer Stephen Venables, author of Everest: Summit of Achievement says there is a big fascination with Mt Everest in Britain. "I think that to some extent the interest has been whipped up by both the media and the organisers of the celebrations, and in the process, the British people are being reminded that Everest is very much a part of Britain's 20th century history," Venables told us. (See Interview.)


Tenzing and Hillary back at the South Col after the summit.


On the summit on 29 May 1953.


Westland biplanes flew over Mt Everest in 1933.


Capt JB Noel filming on the north side of Everest in 1922.


Tenzing before the summit bid.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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