Because Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, it has attracted considerable attention and climbing attempts. Whether the mountain was climbed in ancient times is unknown. It may have been climbed in 1924, although this has never been confirmed, as both of the men making the attempt failed to return from the mountain. Several climbing routes have been established over several decades of climbing expeditions to the mountain.
Everest's first known summiting occurred by 1953, and interest by climbers increased. Despite the effort and attention poured into expeditions, only about 200 people had sumitted by 1987. Everest remained a difficult climb for decades, even for serious attempts by professional climbers and large national expeditions, which were the norm until the commercial era began in the 1990s. By March 2012, Everest had been climbed 5,656 times with 223 deaths. Although lower mountains have longer or steeper climbs, Everest is so high the jet stream can hit it. Climbers can be faced with winds beyond 320 km/h (200 mph) when the weather shifts. At certain times of the year the jet stream shifts north, providing periods of relative calm at the mountain. Other dangers include blizzards and avalanches. By 2013, The Himalayan Database recorded 6,871 summits by 4,042 different people.
First successful ascent by Tenzing and Hillary in 1953
In 1953, a ninth British expedition, led by John Hunt, returned to Nepal. Hunt selected two climbing pairs to attempt to reach the summit. The first pair, Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans, came within 100 m (330 ft) of the summit on 26 May 1953, but turned back after running into oxygen problems. As planned, their work in route finding and breaking trail and their oxygen caches were of great aid to the following pair. Two days later, the expedition made its second assault on the summit with the second climbing pair: the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali Sherpa climber (see picture). They reached the summit at 11:30 local time on 29 May 1953 via the South Col route. At the time, both acknowledged it as a team effort by the whole expedition, but Tenzing revealed a few years later that Hillary had put his foot on the summit first. They paused at the summit to take photographs and buried a few sweets and a small cross in the snow before descending.
News of the expedition's success reached London on the morning of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, 2 June. A few days later, the Queen gave orders that Hunt (a Briton) and Hillary (a New Zealander) were to be knighted in the Order of the British Empire for the ascent. Tenzing, a Nepali Sherpa who was a citizen of India, was granted the George Medal by the UK. Hunt was ultimately made a life peer in Britain, while Hillary became a founding member of the Order of New Zealand. Hillary and Tenzing have also been recognised in Nepal. In 2009, statues were raised in their honor, and in 2014, Hillary Peak and Tenzing Peak were named for them.