Everest 1953
The Epic Story of the First Ascent

The compelling story of the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain. Based on newly released diaries, documents and letters it reveals the inside story of this epic expedition. Far from being the ‘military operation’ of legend, it was beset by crises and controversies from beginning to end.

Everest 1953
  • ISBN: 97.818.516.894.60
  • Publication Date: 18-10-2012
  • Binding: Hardback
  • Extent: 400 pages
  • Illustrations: Hand drawn illustrations by Adam T. Burton


Conefrey describes this frenetic scramble for ownership of the mountain brilliantly … As I read the book, I often found myself deeply moved. It is a tale of great courage, and – poignantly – of a world that has passed

Justin Cartwright, The Guardian

A fascinating piece of documentary writing, as readable and poignant as Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air or Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void

Joanna Kavenna, The Spectator

What makes it special are the lost and hidden details revealed through Conefrey’s access to diaries, archives and interviews

Sally Hughes, We Love this Book

Everest 1953 is without a doubt the most complete story of that epic expedition, and as the first ascent approaches its 60th anniversary it’s still one hell of a story

The My Outdoors Team

A wonderful addition to the Everest literature … thoroughly researched and compelling

Wade Davis, author of Into The Silence

A gripping narrative underpinned by meticulous research

Stephen Venables, first British mountaineer to summit Everest without oxygen


Everest 1953

For British climbers of the 1920s and 1930s, Everest was quite simply ‘our mountain’. It didn’t matter that it was over 4,500 miles away on the border of two of the most remote countries in the world, countries that weren’t even part of the British Empire. To paraphrase the poet Rupert Brooke, it was a foreign field that would be forever England. The British had measured it, named it, photographed it, flown over it and died on it. And so they assumed that one day a British mountaineer would be first to its summit.

1953 Heathrow Arrival – Union Jack L-R Tenzing’s 2 daughters, a UK-team member’s daughter, Hunt, Tenzing, Hillary; Ed Webster Collection

1953 Heathrow Arrival – Union Jack L-R Tenzing’s two daughters, a UK-team member’s daughter, Hunt, Tenzing, Hillary; Ed Webster Collection

Everest 1953, is the remarkable inside story of the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain. Drawing on dozens of interviews with expedition members and their families, unprecedented access to diaries and letters, and several years of research in archives around the world, it sheds dramatic new light on this historic expedition. What has gone down in history as a supremely well-planned attempt was in fact dominated by crises from beginning to end. Far from enjoying a smooth path to the summit, the team had to overcome endless problems on and off the mountain.

Everest 1953 begins with the intrigues and backstairs manoeuvring which led the to the sacking of the expedition’s first leader, Eric Shipton, the legendary mountaineer, and climaxes with the totally unexpected and bitter arguments over who actually got to the top first. What emerges during the dramatic narrative is a set of fascinating characters who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances, which required huge reserves of physical and emotional courage to survive and ultimately to triumph.

John Hunt the leader of the expedition was a war hero and serving officer in the British army. Outwardly he sported an archetypal stiff upper lip but as his letters and diary reveal, he was an incredibly passionate man who flogged himself to death for the sake of victory on Everest. Edmund Hillary, one of the two climbers to reach the summit, was not the humble bee-keeper that he has so often been portrayed as but rather a complex, deeply competitive figure for whom Everest was a transforming experience. No less fascinating was his partner Tenzing Norgay who fell out so publicly with the other members of the team at the end of the expedition.

2013 will mark the 60th anniversary of Hillary and Tenzing’s courageous first ascent. This is the first book since 1956 to devote itself entirely to the expedition.

Great Lives- Ed Hillary

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