Tenzing Norgay was an indigenous Nepalese Sherpa who became famous for becoming one of the first people to climb Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. Throughout the years journalists have questioned Norgay and Hillary about who arrived at the summit first, but they have always maintained that they arrived together, as a team, and refused to say who was first.
Named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, the popularity of Tenzing Norgay lead to an increase in expeditions to Mount Everest as well as growing awareness about the crucial role of the Sherpa on these expeditions. As the death toll on Everest has risen in the past fifty years, particularly among Sherpa, people have began to question the ethics of climbing Everest when the majority of the work is done by Sherpa who are put in increasingly dangerous situations. Additionally, the increase in mountaineering has left the mountain in very poor condition, with trash and oxygen tanks covering the mountain known as Chomolungma to the Sherpa and considered sacred. Is the achievement of climbing Everest truly worth the environmental costs, continued loss of life, and desecration of sacred ground?
Regardless of the issues surrounding Everest today, the achievements of Tenzing Norgay stand as a testament to the human spirit. His achievements have been honored by Queen Elizabeth with the George Medal, although some believe his extreme efforts merit being knighted instead. Regarding the fame surrounding his summit of Mount Everest, the always humble Norgay said: I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life.