The 1953 British Mount Everest expedition was the ninth mountaineering expedition to attempt the first ascent of Mount Everest, and the first confirmed to have succeeded when Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reached the summit on 29 May 1953. Led by Colonel John Hunt, it was organised and financed by the Joint Himalayan Committee. News of the expedition’s success reached London in time to be released on the morning of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, on the 2nd of June that year.


Identified as the highest mountain in the world during the 1850s,[1] Everest became a subject of interest during the Golden age of alpinism, although its height made it questionable if it could ever be climbed. In 1885, Clinton Thomas Dent’s Above the Snow Line suggested that an ascent might be possible.[2] Practical considerations (and World War I) prevented significant approaches until the 1920s. George Mallory is quoted as having said he wanted to climb Everest “Because it’s there”, a phrase that has been called “the most famous three words in mountaineering”.[3][4] Mallory famously disappeared on Everest during the 1924 British Mount Everest expedition and his fate remained a mystery for 75 years.


Most early attempts on Everest were made from the north (Tibetan) side, but the Chinese Revolution of 1949, and the subsequent annexation of Tibet led to the closure of that route. Climbers began to look at an approach from the Nepalese side. The 1952 Swiss Mount Everest Expedition, climbing from Nepal, reached an elevation of about 8,595 m (28,199 ft) on the southeast ridge, setting a new climbing altitude record.[5]

The first party, together with 150 porters, left Kathmandu for Mount Everest on 10 March, followed by the second party and 200 porters on 11 March. They reached Thyangboche on 26 and 27 March respectively, and between 26 March and 17 April engaged in altitude acclimation.[20][non-primary source needed]


Hunt planned for three assaults of two climbers each including “a third and last attempt” if necessary, although after two consecutive assaults; a wait for some days would be necessary to “recover our strength” and to replenish the camps. The plan for the first two assaults had been announced by Hunt on 7 May. The first assault party using closed-circuit oxygen equipment was to start from Camp VIII and aim to reach the South Summit (and if possible the Summit), composed of Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans as only Bourdillon could cope with the experimental sets. The second assault party using open-circuit oxygen equipment was to be the strongest climbing pair, Ed Hillary and Tenzing Norgay; to start from Camp IX higher on the South Col.[21][non-primary source needed][22] The third assault party would have been Wilf Noyce and Mike Ward.[23]


If the (spring) expedition failed a post-monsoon autumn attempt would be undertaken (as the Swiss had done in 1952 – permission was for the whole year; although the Swiss arrived too late). 1952 – permission was for the whole year; although the Swiss arrived too late).



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