On May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and his guide, Tenzing Norgay, were the first climbers to reach the peak of Mount Everest in Nepal. Hillary, a beekeeper by trade, also participated in expeditions to the South Pole and climbed the highest mountain in his native New Zealand in 1948.Continue Reading
Hillary became interested in climbing during a school trip to New Zealand's Mount Ruapehu when he was 16 and he climbed Mount Ollivier at age 20. It was Sir Edmund Hillary's 1948 ascension of Aoraki Mount Cook in New Zealand that earned him a place first in a failed 1951 British expedition to Everest and subsequently in the successful 1953 expedition. The team's success was announced the day before Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, and he was knighted by the queen upon his return to Britain.
Sir Edmund Hillary was the first person in the world to travel to both the North and South Poles and the peak of Mount Everest. In 1958, five years after his famous climb of Everest, Hillary led a successful expedition to the South Pole, and in 1985, he and Neil Armstrong flew a small plane to the North Pole. Hillary was made an honorary citizen of Nepal on the 50th anniversary of his ascension of Mount Everest.Learn more about Exploration & Imperialism