Excerpted From "50 Years on Everest," by Contributing Editor David Roberts, National Geographic Adventure, April 2003
By today's standards, the 1953 British expedition, under the military-style leadership of Sir John Hunt, was massive in the extreme, but in an oddly bottom-heavy way: 350 porters, 20 Sherpas, and tons of supplies to support a vanguard of only ten climbers. "Our climbers were all chosen as potential summiters," recalls George Band, 73, who was one of the party. Fifty years later, Band's memory of the campaign remains undimmed. "The basic plan was for two summit attempts, each by a pair of climbers, with a possible third assault if necessary. On such expeditions the leader tends to designate the summit pairs quite late during the expedition, when he sees how everybody is performing." Anxiety over who is chosen for the summit team would be a hallmark of major Everest expeditions for decades to come. But never again would the stakes be quite so high.
By the spring of 1953, the ascent of the world's highest mountain was beginning to seem inevitable. First attempted in 1921 by the British, Everest had repulsed at least ten major expeditions and two lunatic solo attempts. With the 1950 discovery of a southern approach to the mountain in newly opened Nepal, and the first ascent of the treacherous Khumbu Icefall the following year, what would come to be known by the 1990s as the "yellow brick road" to the summit had been identified.
At first it seemed the Swiss would claim the prize. In 1952 a strong Swiss team that included legendary alpinist Raymond Lambert had pioneered the route up the steep Lhotse Face and reached the South Col. From that high, broad saddle, Lambert and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay then pushed all the way to 28,210 feet (8,598 meters) on the Southeast Ridge before turning back—probably as high as anyone had ever stood on Earth.
Now the British were determined to bring every possible advantage to their spring 1953 offensive—including hiring Tenzing, 38, as their lead Sherpa, or sirdar. Earlier British expeditions, though impressive in their accomplishments, were often charmingly informal in style. Hunt's intricately planned assault, on the other hand, was all business. "You get there fastest with the mostest," observes mountaineering pundit Ken Wilson. "You have a military leader who is totally in tune with that philosophy, and you don't dink around in an amateur sort of clubby way."
From the start, the 33-year-old beekeeper Edmund Hillary (not yet Sir Edmund) was a strong contender for one of the summit slots. "It was his fourth Himalayan expedition in just over two years and he was at the peak of fitness," Band says. The heavily glaciated peaks of his native New Zealand had proved a perfect training ground for the Himalaya. Hillary earned respect early in the expedition by leading the team that forced a route through the Khumbu Icefall. "A sleeves-rolled-up, get-things-done man," Wilson calls him.
Still, logistical snafus, the failure of a number of stalwarts to acclimatize, and problems with some of the experimental oxygen sets stalled the expedition badly. The team took a troubling 12 days to retrace the Swiss route on the Lhotse Face (in part, perhaps, because the British were not as experienced on difficult ice). In despair, Hunt began to wonder whether his party would even reach the South Col.
The expedition finally gained the col—the vital staging area for a summit push—on May 21. This was late enough to be worrisome, for the monsoon, whose heavy snows would prohibit climbing, could arrive as early as June 1.
Because they became the first men to reach the summit of Everest, Hillary and Tenzing would earn a celebrity that has scarcely faded in 50 years. Who today remembers Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans? Yet Hunt's plan called for Bourdillon, a former president of the Oxford Mountaineering Club, and Evans, a brain surgeon, to make the first summit bid.
Despite a relatively late start and problems with Evans's oxygen set, Bourdillon and Evans crested the South Summit—at 28,700 feet (8,748 meters), only 330 feet (101 meters) short of the top—by 1 p.m. on May 26. But Evans was exhausted, and both men knew they would run out of oxygen if they went on. They agreed to turn back. Says Michael Westmacott, Bourdillon's closest friend on the 1953 team: "It was a decision Tom always regretted."
So it was that three days later Hillary and Tenzing set out for the top. Their pairing was hardly an accident. "It had always been Hunt's intention, if feasible, to include a Sherpa in one of the summit teams, as a way of recognizing their invaluable contribution to the success of these expeditions," Band says. "Tenzing had already proved he had summit potential by his performance the previous year with Lambert.
In fact, he had been at least 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) higher than any of us!" Indeed, Tenzing (who died in 1986) was the most experienced Everest veteran alive, having participated in six previous attempts on the mountain dating all the way back to 1935. (To those who criticize the practice of leading paying clients on Everest, Himalayan Experience founder and longtime Everest guide Russell Brice has a barbed, half-joking response: "You know who the first guided client on Everest was? Ed Hillary.")
But Hillary, too, had proved his worth, seeming to grow stronger as the expedition progressed. Band notes that Hillary had also realized what a powerful team he and Tenzing would make. "During the expedition, with hindsight, one can see that he made a deliberate effort to develop a good partnership with Tenzing," Band says. "It paid off. Hillary and Tenzing were the logical second party for the summit. But this was not determined at the outset, only during the course of the expedition as it evolved."
With an earlier start from a higher camp than Bourdillon and Evans's, Tenzing and Hillary reached the South Summit by 9 a.m. But the difficulties were far from over. After the South Summit, the ridge takes a slight dip before rising abruptly in a rocky spur some 40 feet (12 meters) high just before the true summit. Scraping at the snow with his ax, Hillary chimneyed between the rock pillar and an adjacent ridge of ice to surmount this daunting obstacle, later to be known as the Hillary Step. The pair reached the highest point on Earth at 11:30 a.m. on May 29.
The men shook hands, as Hillary later wrote, "in good Anglo-Saxon fashion," but then Tenzing clasped his partner in his arms and pounded him on the back. The pair spent only 15 minutes on top. "Inevitably my thoughts turned to Mallory and Irvine," Hillary wrote, referring to the two British climbers who had vanished high on Everest's Northeast Ridge in 1924. "With little hope I looked around for some sign that they had reached the summit, but could see nothing."
As the two men made their way back down, the first climber they met was teammate George Lowe, also a New Zealander. Hillary's legendary greeting: "Well, George, we knocked the bastard off!"
Their fame was spreading even as Hillary and Tenzing left the mountain. "When we came out toward Kathmandu, there was a very strong political feeling, particularly among the Indian and Nepalese press, who very much wanted to be assured that Tenzing was first," Sir Edmund recalls today. "That would indicate that Nepalese and Indian climbers were at least as good as foreign climbers. We felt quite uncomfortable with this at the time. John Hunt, Tenzing, and I had a little meeting. We agreed not to tell who stepped on the summit first.
"To a mountaineer, it's of no great consequence who actually sets foot first. Often the one who puts more into the climb steps back and lets his partner stand on top first." The pair's pact stood until years later, when Tenzing revealed in his autobiography, Tiger of the Snows, that Hillary had in fact preceded him.
Neither man anticipated how much, in the wake of their success, the appeal of that patch of snow more than five miles in the sky would grow. "Both Tenzing and I thought that once we'd climbed the mountain, it was unlikely anyone would ever make another attempt," Sir Edmund admits today. "We couldn't have been more wrong."
Sir Edmund Percival HillaryKGONZKBEOSN (20 July 1919 – 11 January 2008) was a New Zealand mountaineer, explorer, and philanthropist. On 29 May 1953, Hillary and NepaleseSherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. They were part of the ninth British expedition to Everest, led by John Hunt.
Hillary became interested in mountaineering while in secondary school. He made his first major climb in 1939, reaching the summit of Mount Ollivier. He served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a navigator during World War II. Prior to the Everest expedition, Hillary had been part of the British reconnaissance expedition to the mountain in 1951 as well as an unsuccessful attempt to climb Cho Oyu in 1952. As part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition he reached the South Pole overland in 1958. He subsequently reached the North Pole, making him the first person to reach both poles and summit Everest.
Following his ascent of Everest, Hillary devoted most of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he founded. Through his efforts, many schools and hospitals were built in Nepal. From 1985 to 1988 he served as New Zealand's High Commissioner to India and Bangladesh and concurrently as Ambassador to Nepal. Hillary had numerous honours conferred upon him, including the Order of the Garter in 1995. Upon his death in 2008, he was given a state funeral.
Hillary was born to Percival Augustus and Gertrude (née Clark) Hillary in Auckland, New Zealand, on 20 July 1919. His family moved to Tuakau (south of Auckland) in 1920, after his father, who served at Gallipoli with the 15th (North Auckland) Regiment, was allocated land there. His grandparents had emigrated from Yorkshire to northern Wairoa in the mid-19th century.
Hillary was educated at Tuakau Primary School and then Auckland Grammar School. He finished primary school two years early and at high school achieved average marks. He was initially smaller than his peers and shy, but gained confidence after taking up boxing. He became interested in climing when he was 16 following a school trip to Mount Ruapehu, following which he showed more interest in tramping than in studying and said he "wanted to see the world".
He studied mathematics and science at the Auckland University College and in 1939 completed his first major climb, reaching the summit of Mount Ollivier, near Aoraki/Mount Cook in the Southern Alps. He took up beekeeping with his brother, which occupied him in the summer while he concentrated on climbing in winter. He joined the Radiant Living Tramping Club, where a holistic health philosophy developed by the health advocate Herbert Sutcliffe was taught; tours with the club through the Waitakere Ranges further developed his love of the outdoors.
World War II
At the outbreak of World War II, Hillary applied to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) but quickly withdrew the application, later writing that he was "harassed by my religious conscience". In 1943, with the Japanese threat in the Pacific and the arrival of conscription, he joined the RNZAF as a navigator in No. 6 Squadron RNZAF and later No. 5 Squadron RNZAF on Catalina flying boats. In 1945, he was sent to Fiji and to the Solomon Islands, where he was badly burnt in an accident.
In January 1948, Hillary and others ascended the south ridge of Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest peak. In 1951 he was part of a British reconnaissance expedition to Everest led by Eric Shipton, before joining the successful British attempt of 1953. In 1952, Hillary and George Lowe were part of the British team led by Shipton, that attempted Cho Oyu. After that attempt failed due to the lack of route from the Nepal side, Hillary and Lowe crossed the Nup La[clarification needed] into Tibet and reached the old Camp II, on the northern side, where all the previous expeditions had camped.
1953 Everest expedition
Main article: 1953 British Mount Everest expedition
In 1949, the route to Everest was closed by Chinese-controlled Tibet. For the next several years, Nepal allowed only one or two expeditions per year. A Swiss expedition (in which Tenzing took part) attempted to reach the summit in 1952, but was forced back by bad weather around 800 feet (240 m) below the summit. In 1952 Hillary learned that he and Lowe had been invited by the Joint Himalayan Committee for the 1953 British attempt and immediately accepted.
Shipton was named as leader but was replaced by Hunt. Hillary was immediately impressed by Hunt's energy and determination. Hillary had intended to climb with Lowe, but Hunt named two teams for the assault: Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans; and Hillary and Tenzing. Hillary, therefore, made a concerted effort to forge a working friendship with Tenzing.
The Hunt expedition totalled over 400 people, including 362 porters, 20 Sherpa guides, and 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) of baggage. Lowe supervised the preparation of the Lhotse Face, a huge and steep ice face, for climbing. Hillary forged a route through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall.
The expedition set up base camp in March 1953 and, working slowly, set up its final camp at the South Col at 25,900 feet (7,890 m). On 26 May, Bourdillon and Evans attempted the climb but turned back when Evans' oxygen system failed. The pair had reached the South Summit, coming within 300 vertical feet (91 m) of the summit. Hunt then directed Hillary and Tenzing to attempt the summit.
Snow and wind held the pair up at the South Col for two days. They set out on 28 May with the support of Lowe, Alfred Gregory, and Ang Nyima. The two pitched a tent at 27,900 feet (8,500 m) on 28 May, while their support group returned down the mountain. On the following morning Hillary discovered that his boots had frozen solid outside the tent. He spent two hours warming them over a stove before he and Tenzing, wearing 30-pound (14 kg) packs, attempted the final ascent. The final obstacle was the 40-foot (12 m) rock face now called "Hillary Step"; Hillary later wrote:
I noticed a crack between the rock and the snow sticking to the East Face. I crawled inside and wriggled and jammed my way to the top ... Tenzing slowly joined me and we moved on. I chopped steps over bump after bump, wondering a little desperately where the top could be. Then I saw the ridge ahead dropped away to the north and above me on the right was a rounded snow dome. A few more whacks with my ice-axe and Tenzing and I stood on top of Everest.
(Tenzing later wrote that Hillary alone took the first step onto the summit.) They reached Everest's 29,028 ft (8,848 m) summit – the highest point on earth – at 11:30 am.
They spent about 15 minutes at the summit. Hillary took a photo of Tenzing posing with his ice-axe, but there is no photo of Hillary. BBC News attributed this to Tenzing's having never used a camera; Tenzing's autobiography says that Hillary simply declined to have his picture taken. They also took photos looking down the mountain.
Tenzing left chocolates at the summit as an offering, and Hillary left a cross given him by John Hunt. Their descent was complicated by drifting snow which had covered their tracks. The first person they met was Lowe; Hillary said, "Well, George, we knocked the bastard off."
They returned to Kathmandu a few days later and learned that Hillary had already been appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of British Empire and Hunt a Knight Bachelor.News reached Britain on the day of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, and the press called it a coronation gift. The 37 members of the party later received the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal with mount everest expedition engraved along the rim. In addition to the knighting of Hillary and Hunt, Tenzing – ineligible for knighthood as a Nepalese citizen – received the George Medal. Norgay also received the Star of Nepal from King Tribhuvan.
Hillary climbed ten other peaks in the Himalayas on further visits in 1956, 1960–1961, and 1963–1965. He also reached the South Pole as part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, for which he led the New Zealand section, on 4 January 1958. His party was the first to reach the Pole overland since Amundsen in 1911 and Scott in 1912, and the first ever to do so using motor vehicles.
In the summer of 1962, he was a guest on the television show What's My Line?. The panelists were blindfolded for his appearance. He stumped the panel, comprising Dorothy Kilgallen, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf, and guest panelist Merv Griffin.
In 1977, he led a jetboat expedition, titled "Ocean to Sky", from the mouth of the Ganges River to its source. From 1977 to 1979 he commentated aboard Antarctic sightseeing flights operated by Air New Zealand.
In 1985, he accompanied Neil Armstrong in a small twin-engined ski plane over the Arctic Ocean and landed at the North Pole. Hillary thus became the first man to stand at both poles and on the summit of Everest. This accomplishment inspired generations of explorers to compete over what later was defined as Three Poles Challenge.
In January 2007, Hillary travelled to Antarctica as part of a delegation commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of Scott Base.
On 6 June 1953 Hillary was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire and received the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal the same year. On 6 February 1987, he was the fourth appointee to the Order of New Zealand. He was also awarded the Polar Medal in 1958 for his part in the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, the Order of Gorkha Dakshina Bahu, 1st Class of the Kingdom of Nepal in 1953, and the Coronation Medal in 1975. On 22 April 1995 Hillary was appointed Knight Companion of The Most Noble Order of the Garter. On 17 June 2004 Hillary was awarded Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. The Government of India conferred on him its second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, posthumously, in 2008.
To mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Everest the Nepalese government conferred honorary citizenship upon Hillary at a special Golden Jubilee celebration in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was the first foreign national to receive that honour.
In 1992 Hillary appeared on the updated New Zealand $5 note, thus making him the only living person not a current head of state ever to appear on a New Zealand banknote. In giving his permission, Hillary insisted that Aoraki / Mount Cook rather than Mount Everest be used as the backdrop.
Annual Reader's Digest polls from 2005 to 2007 named Hillary as "New Zealand's most trusted individual".
Hillary's favoured New Zealand charity was the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre, of which he was patron for 35 years. He was particularly keen on how this organisation introduced young New Zealanders to the outdoors in a very similar way to his first experience of a school trip to Mt Ruapehu, at the age of 16. A 2.3-metre (7.5 ft) bronze statue of Hillary was erected outside The Hermitage Hotel at Mount Cook Village; it was unveiled by Hillary himself in 2003. Various streets, institutions and organisations around New Zealand and abroad are named after him – for example, the Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in Otara, which was established by Hillary in 2001.
Two Antarctic features are named after Hillary. The Hillary Coast is a section of coastline south of Ross Island and north of the Shackleton Coast. The Hillary Canyon, an undersea feature in the Ross Sea, appears on the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans, published by the International Hydrographic Organization.
Hillary married Louise Mary Rose on 3 September 1953, soon after the ascent of Everest; he admitted he was terrified of proposing to her and relied on her mother to propose on his behalf. They had three children: Peter (born 1954), Sarah (born 1955) and Belinda (1959–1975). In 1975 while en route to join Hillary in the village of Phaphlu, where he was helping to build a hospital, Louise and Belinda were killed in a plane crash near Kathmandu airport shortly after take-off. In 1989 he married June Mulgrew, the widow of his close friend Peter Mulgrew, who died on Air New Zealand Flight 901 in 1979.
His son Peter Hillary also became a climber, summiting Everest in 1990. In May 2002 Peter climbed Everest as part of a 50th anniversary celebration; Jamling Tenzing Norgay (son of Tenzing; Tenzing himself had died in 1986) was also part of the expedition. Hillary is also survived by six grandchildren.
Hillary's home for most of his life was a property on Remuera Road in Auckland City, where he enjoyed reading adventure and science fiction novels in his retirement. He also built a bach at Whites Beach; one of Auckland's west coast beaches in the former Waitakere City, between Anawhata and North Piha; a friend called it Hillary's place of solace, where he could escape media attenion.
The Hillary family has had a connection with the West Coast of Auckland since 1925, when Louise's father built a bach at Anawhata. The family donated land at Whites Beach that is now crossed by trampers on the Hillary Trail, named for Edmund. Hillary said of the area: "That is the thing that international travel brings home to me – it's always good to be going home. This is the only place I want to live in; this is the place I want to see out my days."
Following his ascent of Everest he devoted much of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he founded in 1960 and led until his death in 2008. Through his efforts many schools and hospitals were built in this remote region of the Himalayas. He was the Honorary President of the American Himalayan Foundation, a United States non-profit body that helps improve the ecology and living conditions in the Himalayas. He was also the Honorary President of Mountain Wilderness, an international NGO dedicated to the worldwide protection of mountains.
Hillary took part in the 1975 New Zealand general election, as a member of the "Citizens for Rowling" campaign. His involvement in this campaign was seen as precluding his nomination as Governor-General, which position was instead offered to Keith Holyoake in 1977. In 1985, Hillary was appointed New Zealand High Commissioner to India (concurrently High Commissioner to Bangladesh and Ambassador to Nepal) and spent four and a half years based in New Delhi.
In 1975, Hillary served as a vice president for the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand, a national pro-choice advocacy group. He was also a patron of REPEAL, an organization seeking repeal of the restrictive Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977.
On 22 April 2007, while on a trip to Kathmandu, Hillary suffered a fall, and was hospitalised after returning to New Zealand. On 11 January 2008 he died of heart failure at Auckland City Hospital. Flags were lowered to half-mast on New Zealand public buildings and at Scott Base in Antarctica, and Prime Minister Helen Clark called Hillary's death a "profound loss to New Zealand".
On 21 January, Hillary's casket was taken into Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland, to lie in state. A state funeral was held on 22 January 2008, after which his body was cremated. On 29 February 2008 most of his ashes were scattered in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf per his desire. The remainder went to a Nepalese monastery near Everest; a plan to scatter them on the summit was cancelled in 2010.
On 2 April 2008, a service of thanksgiving in Hillary's honour at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle was attended by Queen Elizabeth, New Zealand dignitaries including Prime Minister Helen Clark, and members of Hillary's and Norgay's families. Gurkha soldiers from Nepal stood guard outside the ceremony.
On 5 November 2008, a commemorative set of five stamps was issued by the New Zealand Post.
There have been many calls for lasting tributes to Hillary. The first major public tribute has been by way of the "Summits for Ed" tribute tour organised by the Sir Edmund Hillary foundation. This tribute tour went from Bluff at the bottom of the South Island to Cape Reinga at the tip of the North Island, visiting 39 towns and cities along the way. In each venue, school children and members of the public were invited to join together to climb a significant hill or site in their area to show their respect for Hillary. The public were also invited to bring small rocks or pebbles that had special significance to them, that would be included in a memorial to Hillary at the base of Mt Ruapehu, in the grounds of the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre. Any funds donated during the tour are used by the foundation to sponsor young New Zealanders on outdoor courses, to continue the values that Hillary espoused. Over 8,000 members of the public attended these "Summit" climbs between March and May 2008.
In January 2008, Lukla Airport, in Lukla, Nepal, was renamed to Tenzing–Hillary Airport in recognition of their promotion of its construction.
In October 2008, it was announced that future rugby test matches between England and New Zealand would be played for the Hillary Shield. In 2009 the Duke of Edinburgh's Award in New Zealand – formerly the Young New Zealanders' Challenge – was renamed "The Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award".
The tribute song "Hillary 88", by the New Zealand duo The Kiwis, is the official world memorial song for Hillary, with the endorsement of Lady Hillary.
A four-day track in the Waitakere Ranges, along Auckland's west coast, is named the Hillary Trail, in honour of Hillary. Hillary's father-in-law, Jim Rose, who had built a bach at Anawhata in 1925, wrote in his 1982 history of Anawhata Beach, "My family look forward to the time when we will be able to walk from Huia to Muriwai on public walking tracks like the old-time Maori could do". Hillary loved the area, and had his own bach near Anawhata. The track was opened on 11 January 2010, the second anniversary of Hillary's death. Rose Track, descending from Anawhata Road to Whites Beach, is named after the Rose family.
The South Ridge of Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain, was renamed Hillary Ridge on 18 August 2011. Hillary and three other climbers were the first party to successfully climb the ridge in 1948. In September 2013 the Government of Nepal proposed naming a 7,681 metres (25,200 ft) mountain in Nepal Hillary Peak in his honour. After the New Horizons mission discovered a mountain range on Pluto on 14 July 2015, it was informally named Hillary Montes (Hillary Mountains) by NASA.
Books written by Hillary include:
- High Adventure (1955), Hodder & Stoughton (London) (reprinted Oxford University Press (paperback) ISBN 1-932302-02-6 and as High Adventure: The True Story of the First Ascent of EverestISBN 0-19-516734-1)
- East of Everest — An Account of the New Zealand Alpine Club Himalayan Expedition to the Barun Valley in 1954, with George Lowe (1956), E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc. ASIN B000EW84UM
- No Latitude for Error (1961), Hodder & Stoughton. ASIN B000H6UVP6.
- The New Zealand Antarctic Expedition (1959), R.W. Stiles, printers. ASIN B0007K6D72.
- The Crossing of Antarctica; the Commonwealth Transantarctic Expedition, 1955–1958 with Sir Vivian Fuchs (1958). Cassell ASIN B000HJGZ08
- High in the thin cold air; the story of the Himalayan Expedition, led by Sir Edmund Hillary, sponsored by World Book Encyclopedia, with Desmond Doig (1963) ASIN B00005W121
- Schoolhouse in the Clouds (1965); ASIN B00005WRBB
- Nothing Venture, Nothing Win (1975) Hodder & Stoughton General Division; ISBN 0-340-21296-9
- From the Ocean to the Sky: Jet Boating Up the Ganges Ulverscroft Large Print Books Ltd (November 1980); ISBN 0-7089-0587-0
- Two Generations with Peter Hillary (1984) Hodder & Stoughton Ltd; ISBN 0-340-35420-8; reissued as Ascent: Two Lives Explored: The Autobiographies of Sir Edmund and Peter Hillary (1992) Paragon House Publishers ISBN 1-55778-408-6
- View from the Summit: The Remarkable Memoir by the First Person to Conquer Everest (2000) Pocket; ISBN 0-7434-0067-4
- Johnston, Alexa (2013). Sir Edmund Hillary: An Extraordinary Life. Penguin Random House New Zealand Limited. p. 504. ISBN 978-0143006466.
- Little, Paul (2012). After Everest: Inside the private world of Edmund Hillary. Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-877505-20-1.
- Tuckey, Harriet (2013). Everest: The First Ascent — How a Champion of Science Helped to Conquer the Mountain. Lyons Press. p. 424. ISBN 978-0762791927.
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