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On May 29, 1953, New Zealander Sir Edmund Percival Hillary (1919– ) became the first person to reach the summit (top) of Mount Everest. The highest mountain in the world (29,028 feet [8,847 meters]), Mount Everest is in the Himalaya Mountains, between Nepal and Tibet in China. As a young man, Hillary became interested in mountain climbing and, while serving in the New Zealand Air Force, he climbed mountains near the base where he was stationed. Later he perfected his climbing skills under the guidance of Harry Ayres, a famous mountaineer. During 1951 and 1952, Hillary took part in an expedition of New Zealanders who were determined to climb Mount Everest. In 1953 Hillary and Tenzing Norgay (1914–1986), a Nepalese climber, reached the summit, where Hillary took a photograph of Norgay. But because Norgay did not know how to use the camera, no photograph of Hillary at the summit exists. Hillary made other expeditions, including a trip to Nepal to search for the Yeti (the mythical Abominable Snowman) and to Antarctica. Using income earned from speaking, writing, and product endorsements, Hillary funded and helped build schools and hospitals in northern Nepal, where he had accomplished the feat that made him famous.
Further Information: Burgan, Michael. "Battling Everest." National Geographic World. January, 1999, pp. 10–13; Hacking, Sue M. The Man Who Conquered Everest: Sir Edmund Hillary. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Marshall Cavendish, 1996; Hillary, Edmund. "Climber: Everest's First Conqueror Reflects on the Changing Face of the Highest Adventure." People. June 14, 1999, pp. 147+; Stewart, Whitney. Sir Edmund Hillary: To Everest and Beyond. Minneapolis, Minn.: Lerner, 1996.
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