navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies School and Family
Biographies Unit Biographies

Tenzing Norgay 1914-1986
Tiger of the Snows

In 1953, two men stood atop Mt. Everest, the highest mountain in the world, for the very first time. They were mountaineers Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal. Both became instantly famous for their first-ever feat of mountain climbing.

Norgay grew up in a village in Nepal, the mountainous homeland of the Sherpa people. Sherpas are used to living in high altitudes and often work on climbing expeditions in the Himalayas. Norgay made his first climb on Mt. Everest in 1935. Over the years, he took part in many Everest expeditions. Finally, in 1953, he and Edmund Hillary reached the top together. The view, Norgay later wrote, was “wild, wonderful, and terrible.”

Norgay's achievement made him a celebrity and a hero to many Asians. He later published two books about his life. He also became the director of a training center for mountain climbers in Darjiling, India.

Comprehension Check

Where was Norgay from?

Critical Thinking

What character traits might you use to describe Tenzing Norgay?