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The Expedition Team 1953

The 1953 British Mount Everest expedition was the ninth mountaineering expedition to attempt the first ascent of Mount Everest. Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reached the summit on 29 May 1953. Led by Colonel John Hunt, it was organised and financed by the Joint Himalayan Committee.

The Sherpa Team

Ang Norbu, Dawa Thondup, Da Namgyal, Tashi Phutar, Ang Tharke, Ang Temba, Ang Tsering, Pasang Dawa, Topkie, Kancha, Thondup Annullu, Ang Dawa II, Ang Nyima, Pemba Norbu, Phu Dorji, Gompu, Gyaljen, Ang Dorji, Da Tensing, Ang Namgyal

The Climbing Team

George Band

George Band was a Cambridge undergraduate and the youngest member of the Everest team. Taking a year off, he returned to the Himalayas in 1954 on an unsuccessful Cambridge University expedition to Rakaposhi in the Karakoram. The following year he joined Charles Evans’ successful attempt on Kangchenjunga. An international career with the Royal Dutch Shell group followed but he remained an active mountaineer and author, producing a celebration of the 150 years of the Alpine Club and the official history of Everest. He served as chairman of the Mount Everest Foundation and president of the British Mountaineering Council and the Alpine Club. He died in 2011 aged 82.

Alfred Gregory

Alfred Gregory became an internationally respected professional photographer as a result of the images he took as an amateur on Everest. He later ran a successful travel business, leading treks to Nepal and giving lectures on the international circuit.

A firm believer in film, he reluctantly agreed to have thousands of his mountaineering slides converted to digital images. In 1993 he emigrated to Australia where he died in 2010 aged 96.



George Lowe

George Lowe joined Hillary on the unsuccessful New Zealand expedition to Makalu in 1954 and was then invited by Sir Vivian Fuchs to be the official photographer and to represent New Zealand on the Commonwealth Trans Antarctic Expedition from 1955-58. At the South Pole he met Hillary who was route finding from the opposite direction. George took part in the Silver Hut research into high altitude medicine and joined Hunt, leading an exploration group to Greenland, Greece and Ethiopia and later on an expedition to the Pamirs with a British-Russian team. George taught in New Zealand and in England and for 10 years was headteacher of the Grange School in Santiago, Chile. He was appointed to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools (HMI) in 1973 and was a founder member of the Himalayan Trust UK. He died in 2013 aged 89.

Wilfrid Noyce

His personal achievements on the expedition, in opening the route to the South Col, was followed by his outstanding book South Col which was translated into several languages including Russian and Japanese. Prompted by this success he gave up teaching to become a full time writer, publishing his first book of poetry (Michael Angela) in 1953. He was elected to the committee of the Alpine Club and also the Climbers’ Club; taking on the editorship of the Climbers’ Club Guide-books. In 1960, he led an expedition to Trivor, 25,370 feet, an unclimbed peak in the Karakoram which is described in ‘To the Unknown Mountain’, his last published work, and considered by many to be his finest. He was killed along with Robin Smith whilst descending Peak Garmo in the Russian Pamirs in 1962.

Mike Ward

Mike Ward returned to medicine and qualified as a surgeon, developing an interest in the physical effects of high altitude. In 1960 as mountaineer and medic he took part in the Himalayan Scientific and Mountaineering experiment in the Everest region. In 1980 he led a reconnaissance expedition to Mount Kongur in China, carrying out scientific work. A strong supporter of the NHS, he declined private practice and for nearly 30 years was consultant surgeon at St Andrew’s, Bow and later at Newham College. Appointed CBE in 1983 he received the RGS Founders Medal. He died aged 80 in 2005.

Tom Bourdillon

Tom Bourdillon was a pioneer of the closed-circuit oxygen apparatus which took him and Charles Evans to within 300ft of the summit of Everest. After the expedition he returned to his career as physicist in rocket research but remained a keen mountaineer. He was an inspiring figure in the post-war renaissance of British climbing in the Alps, taking on some of the most difficult alpine routes of the day (North Face of the Dru, Mer de Glace face of Grépon by Aig du Roc), and he became the first president of the élite Alpine Climbing Group (1954–6). He was killed with another climber, Richard Viney, in July 1956 when they fell ascending the Jagihorn in the Bernese Oberland.

Edmund Hillary

Ed Hillary continued a life of adventure, climbing ten other Himalayan peaks from 1956 to 1965. In 1958 he reached the South Pole on the Commonwealth Trans- Antarctic Expedition, the first to reach the South Pole overland since Amundsen and Scott. Appointed New Zealand High Commissioner to India in 1985 when with astronaut Neil Armstrong he flew to the North Pole, becoming the first man to stand on all three of the earth’s poles. He was Knighted in 1953 and received many other high honours. He founded the Himalayan Trust, building schools and hospitals in the remote Himalayas. He died aged 88 in 2008.


Jan Morris (James Morris)

James Morris became the distinguished writer Jan Morris, well known author of more than 50 highly regarded books on travel, history, biography and memoir. Morris’s coded message “snow conditions bad stop advanced base abandoned yesterday stop awaiting improvement” gave The Times its world scoop. In 1974 James transitioned to become Jan, documenting her personal journey from man to woman in her searingly honest account, Conundrum. Jan and her wife Elizabeth remained married to each other throughout their adult lives. They lived in North Wales, where Jan died in 2020.





Griffith Pugh

Griffith’s groundbreaking research during the 1952 Cho Oyu expedition into rates of breathing in climbers and on food and fluid intakes was a pivotal factor in the successful ascent of Everest in 1953. After Everest he continued his research into adaptation to cold and, as deputy leader of the Trans-Antarctic expedition, worked on the hazards of carbon monoxide poisoning in Antarctic tents and huts. As scientific leader for the 9-month long ‘Silver Hut’ expedition in 1960 he studied high altitude physiology whilst over-wintering in a prefabricated hut at 5,800m. In 1968 he studied the effect of altitude on athletes’ performance as part of Olympians preparation and contributed to important work on cold and hypothermia amongst long-distance swimmers. He died in 1994 aged 85.

Mike Westmacott

Michael Westmacott’s main job on the 1953 expedition was in the Khumbu Icefall – pioneering the route, later keeping it open, and finally descending it with James Morris to get the news of the successful ascent home. After the expedition he returned to his work as an agricultural statistician at Rothamsted but later joined Shell as an economist. He became president of the Alpine Club and developed the club’s Himalayan Index, made available on the Internet. He retired to the Lake District where he died in 2012 aged 87.

Charles Evans

Charles Evans, by profession a neurosurgeon, was the deputy leader on Everest and went on to lead the successful British attempt on Kangchenjunga in 1955. A number of other Himalayan peaks followed. He was appointed Principal of University College at Bangor and received a Knighthood in 1969.

Sadly multiple sclerosis confined him to a wheel chair but he received many honours for his work as a surgeon and mountain explorer. He died aged 77 in 1995.



John Hunt

John Hunt had had a distinguished military career and had been awarded the DSO for his leadership and bravery during World War II. He was the leader of the 1953 expedition, following which he left the army to become the first director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. He was later appointed as the first chairman of the Parole Board, and his advisory work on policing in Northern Ireland led to the Hunt report. In 1973 he was appointed to the Royal Commission of the Press and was the Chairman of the National Parks. He had been given a knighthood following the Everest expedition and then, in recognition of his distinguished career as a public servant, he was made a Knight of the Garter in 1979. He died in 1988 aged 88.

Tenzing Norgay

Tenzing Norgay devoted much of his life after Everest to raising awareness about socioeconomic challenges faced within the Sherpa Community in the Everest region of Nepal and in Darjeeling, which he called home. He received the George Medal after the Everest success and was appointed director of the Himalayan Mountaineering institute in Darjeeling. The King of Nepal presented him with the Order of the Star of Nepal and in 1959 the Government of India awarded him the Padma Bushan, the third-highest civilian award in India. The George Medal is the highest award bestowed by the British government for non-operational gallantry or gallantry, not in the presence of an enemy. He died aged 72 in 1986.



Tom Stobbart

Tom Stobbart returned to his normal adventurous routine as a wildlife cameraman following the huge success of his film of the 1953 expedition, which earned a substantial sum for the Mount Everest Foundation. The film’s producers were so pleased with the quality of his work they told Stobbart he could bathe in champagne. He was shot in the leg by an armed guard in Ethiopia but lost contact with expedition members. It is understood he died in 1978.




Charles Wylie

Charles Wylie became Military Attaché, British Embassy, Kathmandu, being the third generation of his family to be involved in Nepal. A fluent speaker of Urdu and Nepali, Charles was in charge of liaising and working with the Sherpa members of the Everest expedition and the porters. On an expedition organised by Jimmy Roberts he climbed to within 150ft of the summit of Macha Puchare. He retired from the Gurkha’s in 1970 to be Chairman of the British Nepal Medical Trust. He was appointed OBE in 1995 and he died aged 86 in 2007.



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