On May 29th, 1953: Hillary and Tenzing reach the summit of Mount Everest

Mount Everest Panorama

Mount Everest Panorama, seen from Tibetan Plateau, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Mountains, especially the really, really high ones, have always fascinated people. So impressive, so challenging, so near to heaven – or hell.

But why should anyone want to risk their life to climb up a mountain? George Mallory, one of the people who tried to reach Mount Everest’s summit, answered famously: “Because it is there”. He tried, and failed. Not only didn’t he reach his goal- he lost his life at the attempt.

It was another man who should be the first to reach the goal of conquering “goddess mother of the world”, as it is called in Tibet. Sir Edmund Hillary, a mountaineer from New Zealand, reached the highest point of the Earth on May 28th, 1953, accompanied by the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, almost thirty years after Mallory’s unsuccessful endeavor and tragical death.

Hillary and Tenzing

Hillary and Tenzing. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The 60th return of this event is reason enough to celebrate with a few links on the Mount Everest and the people who tried to defeat it.

There is a huge amount of wonderful and impressive pictures featuring Mount Everest on the web. Here are a few examples:

One of the best ressources is the “Imaging Everest” from the Royal Geographic Society, dedicated to history, geography and the people and region surrounding the mountain.

Here is a HD panorama map of the Himalaya, to give you some orientation. Google Maps Streetview has also a panorama, from the Base Camp. And you can watch a cool video:

The NYT published a nice photo essay, “Exploring Nepal’s Everest region“. A huge collection of almost 400 pictures can be found here. National Geographic presents a few historical Everest expedition photos.

NASA provides an interesting tutorial on “How to find Mt. Everest from space” with many interesting photos.

Even the litter left by hundreds of mountaineers on the Everest is not wasted after all: Tibetan artists create stunning artworks from it.

Last, but not least, for the mountain itself, here’s the allegedly only 360° panorama view from the Everest’s top. Absolutely breathtaking!

But this day also celebrates the brave men who tried – and succeeded or failed – to conquer the mountain.

Edmund Hillary holds the title of the first man standing on top of the Everest.

Sir Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Listen to him telling you in an interview about his amazing achievement, in his own voice:

Here is a  TIME photo essay about Hillary’s ascent. A comprehensive biography can be found on Wikipedia.

In 2008, the NYT published an impressive obituary for Sir Edmund Hilary.

The second famous mountaineer to honor is George Mallory, who lost his life almost 90 years ago, allegedly on his way up to the summit. It could never be proved wether he reached it or not.

Mallory and expedition

Mallory, on the right of the rear row, on an Expedition to the Everest in 1921, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

BBC broadcasted an interesting Film, “The wildest dream”. See a trailer here:

Or explore a wonderful NatGeo photo essay about the recreation of his 1924 climb.

In 1999 Mallory’s body was discovered, after 75 years. Read an analysis of the discovery and Mallory’s final hours by the Mallory & Irvine Research Expedition’s historian Jochen Hemleb.

At last some interesting trivia about the stunning effectiveness of Mallory’s Everest clothes.

Everest Mosaic by NASA

2004 photo mosaic of the Himalayas with Mount Everest from the ISS, Courtesy of NASA via Wiki Commons

And if anyone now plans to climb the highest peak of the world, here’s where to start: The website Summitpost.org provides a lot of information, from “Getting there” to a brief gear list. But before, you probably should try to solve this quiz 😉


On January 11th, 1908: Grand Canyon becomes a “national monument”

Grand Canyon

South Kaibab Trail at Cedar Ridge, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

There are indeed landscapes which make you stand speechlessly and in awe when you see them for the first time. And most certainly the Grand Canyon is one of these landscapes.

It took almost 2 billion years of geological history, and a lot of different natural events, till the Colorado river had cut this 227 miles long and, in parts, 6000 feet deep canyon into the Colorado plateau as we see it today. The exact way how this happened and its real age are still discussed (read an interesting NYT article about the age debate here and visit the NPS section about geology here).

On this day in 1908 Theodore Roosevelt made the Grand Canyon a “national monument” (read more about this here). The 105th anniversary of this event makes it a good time to indulge in the beauty of one of the most amazing natural wonders of the US.

Start your exploration of the Grand Canyon with a wonderful 360° Panorama View.

Of course there are thousands of wonderful pictures of the Canyon available on the web. Here are a few links to start with:

The biggest collection, featuring not only landscape photos, but also animals, artifacts, plants, history and much more can be watched at NPS’ Flickr Pool.

Here’s another stunning collection of 35 high quality pictures and a wonderful little collection of historical photos.

You can even hear how it sounds being at the Canyon here.

An amazing and very special view into the Canyon (at least if you don’t have any fear of heights) provides the Glass Skywalk, opened in 2007, that lets you look down 4000 into the Canyon.

If you want to visit the Grand Canyon yourself, this NYT article suggests a “36 hours at the Grand Canyon” tour.

But if you are more into historical sources, you might like to read this 1917 book “The Grand Canyon. An article giving the credit of first traversing the Grand Canyon of the Colorado to James White, a Colorado gold prospector, who it is claimed maide the voyage two years previous the expedition under the direction of Maj. J. W. Powell in 1869” by Thomas F. Dawson online.

There is also a wonderful historical footage from the 1920s out there:

The Grand Canyon is not only an amazing landscape but it was home to people for a long period of time. Take a virtual tour to the archaeological excavations from 2007 to 2009 here.

At last, learn about the curious story of egyptian artifacts said to be found in the Great Canyon.

And for your visual pleasure, two wonderful videos which take you flying over and through the canyon…

with clouds….

… and without clouds.

And if there remains still a bit of curiosity: These pages will provide you with loads of further information:

One of the best resouces about the Canyon is the NPS website, with many pages and high quality information.

There is also a nice site from the University of Arizona.

Finally this vast bibliography includes more than 5000 entries about the Canyon, including a list of NYT articles, Sources for vision impaired persons and fiction.

And if you eventually know everything about the Grand Canyon, you will easily be able to take this Quiz from National Geographic 😉