Everest Expeditions & First Ascents: For Everest Base Camp Trekkers Wanting to Know More

As I was preparing for my Everest Base Camp trek, I knew that my training needed to include learning about the history and culture of Everest. One of the things I wanted to do was compile a list of all the first ascents, along with the expeditions that led to the very first ascent in 1953.

Below you’ll find the major first ascents including those of women and people with disability.

A Chronological List of Everest Expeditions and First Ascents

  • 1921 – British Reconnaissance. British approached from the north side in Tibet and reached 23,030 ft.
  • 1922 – First Attempt (British). The first climbers reached 26,800 ft. It was the first time that anyone had been above 26,000 ft (or 5,000m). George Mallory was there.
  • 1924 – George Mallory & Andrew “Sandy” Irvine die. They were last seen at 26,000ft. No one knows for sure if they summited or not. In 1999, Mallory’s body was found but they were not able to find his camera so they still can’t confirm if they made the summit.
  • 1933 – Another British Attempt
  • 1934 – Crazy British Guy dies. Maurice Wilson flew from Brittan to India after only a few flying lessons. He illegally hiked through Darjeeling and into Tibet. He expected to transport himself to the summit with spiritual help. He was later found in a crevasse below the North Col, wrapped up in this tent and holding his journal. (I’d love to read that! ha!)
  • 1935 – British Reconnaissance
  • 1936, 1938 – British Expedition Attempt
  • 1947 – Illegal Attempt by a Canadian Engineer (Tibetan side)
  • 1950 – Nepal opens its borders to foreigners
  • 1951 – British Reconnaissance of Nepal side. Edmund Hillary was on this trip (check out a description of his book here)
  • 1952 – Swiss attempt with Tenzing Norgay. Nepal only gave one permit and it was to the Swiss
  • 1953 – First Summit by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. They climbed from the Nepal side up the South Col route. It was announced at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and claimed by the British since New Zealand (Hillary’s home country) was under British rule. Nepal also claimed the first ascent since Norgay is Nepalese. There was a lot of controversy surrounding who was on the summit first and which country should get credit. Both Hillary and Norgay agreed to never share who was physically on the summit first. (Although, if I may, I think it was Norgay. I don’t think he would have had any issues saying if he summitted second based on what I’ve read about him.)
  • 1963 – First Ascent by an American. Jim Whittaker was the first American to summit Mt. Everest
  • 1963 – First Ascent of the West Ridge. Americans Tom Hornbein and Will Unsoeld climbed up the West Ridge
  • 1975 – First Ascent by a Woman. Climber, Junko Tabei from Japan climbed the Southeast Ridge Route
  • 1980 – First Solo Ascent and Without Oxygen. Italian climber, Reinhold Messner went during the monsoon season. He was the first to climb all 14 mountains that are taller than 26,000ft (8,000m) without oxygen. He also crossed Antartica and Greenland on foot. He crossed the Gobi Desert solo.
  • 1996 – Mount Everest Disaster. Into Thin Air described the disaster and is one of my top 5 reads for those who want to trek to Everest Base Camp
  • 1998 – First Ascent by an Amputee. Tom Whittaker, from England and the USA, was able to summit on this, his 3rd attempt.
  • 2001 – First Blind Ascent. American Erik Weihenmayer was the first blind person to summit Mt Everest. He wasn’t led, he followed by ear. He would follow ropes or his team would tap on the ice and he would jump across crevasses.
  • 2005 – Youngest Ascent without Oxygen. Tashi Lakpa Sherpa was 19 years old when he summited without oxygen.
  • 2006 – First Ascent by a Double Amputee. Mark Inglis from New Zealand made his ascent from the Tibetan side. If you read Mark E. Johnson’s book on Everest Base Camp, you’ll see that Johnson ran into Inglis during his EBC trek!
  • 2010 – Youngest Person to Summit. American Jordan Romero climbed Everest at 13 years old. He was also the youngest person to climb the 7 Summits (the highest peaks on the 7 continents) at 15 years old. There is a lot of controversy around his family since most people in the mountaineering community saw it as unsafe for kids that young to climb that high.
  • 2013 – First Ascent by a Female Amputee. Arunima Sinha from India was determined to climb Everest after a terrible accident and she accomplished that goal!
  • 2014 -16 Sherpas were killed in a terrible avalanche
  • 2015 – 19 people were killed in base camp from an avalanche caused by an earthquake
  • 2016 – First Ascent by a Deaf Person. Satoshi Tamura from Japan was the first deaf person to summit Everest.
Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay – the first people to summit Mount Everest (1953)
The first woman to summit Mount Everest – Junko Tabei

Why Make Your Own Everest Google Book?

As I prepared for my trek to Everest Base Camp, I knew that I’d have questions along that way and that I wouldn’t have Google to help me answer them. (My dad and I are notorious for asking more questions that we can answer.) With weight limit requirements and a lack on internet access, I knew we’d be in trouble. So I started putting the most important things in small notebook that would fit in the pocket of my down jacket.

The “Everest Google Book” I created for my trek to Everest Base Camp. I wrote most of the details out, but I did print out maps of the region/trek and pictures of flora and fauna.

More on Everest Base Camp

Check out my other blog posts on trekking to Everest Base Camp

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