"We didn't know if it was humanly possible to reach the top of Mt. Everest. And even using oxygen as we were, if we did get to the top, we weren't at all sure whether we wouldn't drop dead or something of that nature."
Edmund Hillary did not drop dead at the top of Mt. Everest. On May 29, 1953, he and the Nepalese Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, set foot on the summit, the highest point on earth. They had succeeded where others had failed, and had survived a journey that had taken the lives of great explorers before them.
Until that year, Edmund Hillary had lived in relative obscurity as a beekeeper in Auckland, New Zealand, but the unprecedented feat of scaling the world's highest mountain brought him a fame he could hardly have imagined. In the years that followed, he led expeditions to the South Pole and other remote corners of the earth, but he returned often to the mountains of Nepal, the scene of his greatest triumph. Sir Edmund Hillary dedicated much of his long life to environmental causes and to humanitarian efforts on behalf of the Nepalese people. More than half a century after his most famous feat, his fame remained undimmed. His name has become a byword for courage and endurance.