On this day in 1953, New Zealand adventurer Sir Edmund Percival Hillary (1919-2008) and climbing companion Tensing Norgay of Nepal reached the top of Mount Everest, at 29,035 feet (8,850 metres), the highest place on earth.
"You don't have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals," Hillary once said.
A beekeeper and fastidious planner, Hillary prepared for every challenge in his quest for Everest. "Each night when I went to bed, I'd let my mind dwell on the likely things that might happen the next day," he explained. "And think out carefully the sorts of decisions that might be necessary to make."
"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves," said the man who was also the first to stand at both poles and explore the source of the Yangtze River.
In 1961, Hillary established the Himalayan Trust to help find long term solutions to the problems confronting the Sherpas and others living in the Everest district of Nepal. With courage and compassion, practice and focus, Hillary and his Trust have built schools, airfields, bridges, and hospitals, awarded scholarships, and planted over a million trees.
Since Hillary's magnificent ascent in 1953, over 1,200 climbers have scaled Mount Everest. The feeling at the top, said Hillary, is unforgettable.
"Everest is an icon," said Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of Tenzing, who died in May 1986. "The legacy continues."
"The explorers of the past were great men and we should honor them. But let us not forget that their spirit still lives on," Hillary said. "It is still not hard to find a man who will adventure for the sake of a dream or one who will search, for the pleasure of searching, and not for what he may find."
Practice, focus, and plan for the endless possibilities!