Many times I think of that morning at Camp Nine. We have spent the night there, Hillary and I, in our little tent at almost 28,000 feet, which is the highest that men have ever slept. It has been a cold night. Hillary's boots are frozen, and we are almost frozen too. But now in the gray light, when we creep from the tent, there is almost no wind. The sky is clear and still. And that is good.
We look up. For weeks, for months, that is all we have done. Look up. And there it is—the top of Everest. Only it is different now: so near, so close, only a little more than a thousand feet above us. It is no longer just a dream, a high dream in the sky, but a real and solid thing, a thing of rock and snow, that men can climb. We make ready. We will climb it. This time, with God's help, we will climb on to the end.
Then I look down. All the rest of the world is under us. To the west, Nuptse; to the south, Lhotse; to the east, Makalu: all of them great mountain tops, and beyond them hundreds of others, all under us. I see that Hillary is looking too, and I point. Below the glacier, 16,000 feet down, you can just see in the gray light the old monastery of Thyangboche.
To Hillary perhaps it does not mean so much. To a man from the West it is only a far strange place in a far strange country. But for me it is home. Beyond Thyangboche are the valleys and villages of Solo Khumbu, and there I was born and grew up. On the tall hillsides above them I climbed as a boy, tending my father's yaks. Home is close now. I can almost stretch out my hand and touch it. But if it is close, it is also far. Much farther than 16,000 feet. As we strap on our oxygen tanks I think back to the boy, so close and so far, who had never heard of oxygen, but yet looked up at this mountain and dreamed.
April 18, 1955
Then we turn around, Hillary and I. We begin to climb.
It is many miles and many years that have brought me here.
These are the opening paragraphs of the book by the Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, which SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will begin publishing next week. In four installments Tenzing (in collaboration with the distinguished author on mountaineering, James Ramsey Ullman) tells his life, from his childhood in far-off Nepal where on clear days he looked up and saw the ultimate peak, Everest, to the day in May, 1953, when he stood upon it with Sir Edmund Hillary and looked down. For the first time the full story is told of the last few minutes of the history-making climb. And Tenzing tells too of the world he found when he descended—a world at times as remote from that to which he was born as the summit of Everest from the farthest depth of the Pacific Ocean.
Our Managing Editor, Sid James, predicts that this book, which will be published this summer, will rest at the top of the best-seller list for many months. Indeed, he thinks it will eventually be judged one of the finest books of the 20th century.
It is a story of high adventure, of the supreme achievement of great human beings drawn together in a common cause. It is a story of man rising above himself.