Heroism hits the heights: the world celebrates 60 years since the first ascent of Everest - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 29 May 2013

At 11.30am on 29 May 1953, climber Edmund Hillary and his Nepalese climbing partner Tenzing Norgay became the first people to set foot on the highest point on Earth.


Heroism hits the heights: the world celebrates 60 years since the first ascent of Everest

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 29 May 2013


By Stephen Exley

At 11.30am on 29 May 1953, climber Edmund Hillary and his Nepalese climbing partner Tenzing Norgay became the first people to set foot on the highest point on Earth.

Today, 60 years on, a host of events are taking place to mark the anniversary of the intrepid climbers who made history by being the first to reach the 29,028ft (8,848m) summit of Mount Everest.

The pair spent just 15 minutes at the summit, with Tenzing posing for a photo with his ice axe and leaving an offering of chocolates in the snow, while New Zealander Sir Edmund left a cross at the site.

The pair left Everest as heroes, and at an event in London to mark the anniversary, their sons will join celebrated mountaineers such as Sir Chris Bonington, Stephen Venables and Doug Scott for the launch of a new book containing previously unpublished photographs from the historic climb.

While only six people completed the climb in 1963, more than 520 people have managed it so far this year.

But intrepid mountaineers are as keen as ever to break records on the Himalayan peak, which sits on the border between Nepal and China. Today it emerged that Min Bahadur Sherchan, an 81-year-old Nepalese man, has been forced to abandon his bid to become the oldest person to scale the world’s highest mountain because of treacherous weather conditions. His previous record, set in 2008, was broken last week by Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura, 80.

But another successful record attempt did take place this month when Russian Valery Rozov leaped off the northern side of the mountain at 23,000ft, breaking the world record for the highest ever base jump, using a parachute for the final part of his descent to ground level.

Controversial plans are afoot to make it easier for future climbers to ascend – and descend – the peak. Near the summit, a 40ft climb up a near-vertical rock face, now known as the Hillary Step, was the phase of Sir Edmund’s climb that proved the most challenging.

Proposals have been put forward to install a ladder to help climbers navigate the perilous section more quickly.

“Most of the traffic jams are at the Hillary Step because only one person can go up or down,” said Dawa Steven Sherpa, who runs commercial expeditions on Everest.

“If you have people waiting for two, three or even four hours that means lots of exposure. To make the climbing easier, that would be wrong. But this is a safety feature.”



Questions for discussion or further research:

  • Climbing a mountain is a personal challenge. What personal challenges have you set yourself in the past or would like to set yourself in the future?
  • Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay have been called 'heroes'. Do you agree with this description? Why/why not?
  • What do you think motivates people to try to break world records?
  • What difficulties might a mountain climber face and what might they need to take with them to help them survive a climb?

Resources for you


Mount Everest

  • Based on a climb up Mount Everest, this lesson will allow students to develop their decision making skills.

Record breaking planet

  • Get students researching record breaking facts about our planet with this fun activity.

Majestic mountains

  • A literacy unit linked to mountains. Get children to recount a mountain climber's experience in a narrative form.

Mountains

  • How are mountains formed? Find out in this PowerPoint lesson and accompanying activity.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week


On television news last night and on the front pages of newspapers around the world this morning: a bloodied man wielding a machete just moments after an off-duty soldier was attacked in Woolwich, London.

65 years after Mahatma Gandhi’s death, his peasant outfit is affordable only to those with an excess of worldly goods.

It is stretching the definition of “fast”. And also, some might argue, the definition of “food”. But Gaza residents are prepared to wait four hours, and pay almost £20, for a dinner of cold, limp KFC chicken and chips, it has been revealed.

David Beckham, perhaps the world's most recognised sports star, has announced his retirement, saying that he is going out "at the top".



In the news archive index