May 29, 2013

The People You Meet: The Legends of Everest & 60th Anniversary Celebrations

Today marked one of the highlights of my personal journey as a 'modern day adventurer' and lover of mountain-adventure stories which have inspired me climb to the lofty peaks of the Himalayas and the Alps. Today marks the 60th anniversary of the 1st ascent of Mount Everest with celebrations here in Kathmandu to honour the 'diamond' anniversary of first mountaineers  - Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay - reaching the highest point on earth on 29 May ,1953.  We celebrated, in style, at the British Embassy and subsequently at the Royal Palace.... the wine was flowing, the sun was shining and the conversations inspiring...  It was an absolutely BRILLIANT day from start to finish and I couldn't imagine a more perfect place to celebrate this historic occasion.

Set in the beautiful gardens of the British Embassy and the Ambassadors residence (which had been recreated into a more 'comfortable' and significantly 'greener' version of Base Camp), under some blazing-hot pre-monsoon sunshine we shared tales of our recent high-altitude adventures on the slopes of Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and other 8000m peaks and mingled with Nepali dignitaries and members of the diplomatic community. Many climbers who attended the celebrations were just back from expeditions so it was great to re-connect with everyone and admire and compare our 'racoon' tans and summit day stories... It was great to see everyone in excellent spirits, dressed in their finest post-expedition wear and ready to celebrate into the early hours...

Guests included Kanchha Sherpa, the only surviving member of the 1953 team that made the first successful ascent, as well as both Sir Edmund Hillary’s granddaughter Amelia Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa’s grandson, Jamling Norgay. Also in attendance were Reinhold Messner  and Lydia Bradley, who were the first man and woman to summit Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. They had the pleasure of cutting a giant 'Everest' sized cake..!

The British Ambassador, Andy Sparkes, read out a message from the Queen to the President of Nepal...

“On the 60th Anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest I wish to send my warmest regards to the Government of Nepal and to re-affirm the strong ties that exist between our two countries. The news of the successful ascent reached me at a particularly memorable time, the day before my Coronation. The Everest Expedition was an historic example of UK-Nepal co-operation and I hope that the special relationship between our two countries will continue to grow in the years to come. Elizabeth R.”

The evening ended with an award ceremony and dinner at the Royal Palace...

A perfect day and perfect way to end what has been a truly amazing two months.

With my invite to the British Embassy celebrations and Royal Palace dinner
Social sunny afternoon
Suze, Anna and Lydia - looking gorgeous after 2 months on the mountain
Anthony meeting his mountaineering hero Wolfgang Nairz
Prayer flag bunting..!
Gorgeous marquis that kept us well protected from the blazing sun
Reinhold Messner and Lydia Bradley cutting the Everest cake
With British Ambassador, Andy Sparkes and Serena Brocklebank
Miss Elizabeth Hawley with Suze Kelly and Billi Bierling  

Two inspirational climbers and wonderful women Everest summiteers Serena Brocklebank and Billi Bierling (who was part of the all-woman team to summit Nuptse this season!)
Kanchha Sherpa, his wife as well as Serena and Billi
With Nazir Sabir at the Royal Palace

Traditional Nepali dancing at the Royal Palace
Preparing for a delicious traditional Nepali dhal bhat dinner


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