Lowe & Lewis-Jones’s Wonderful Book on the 1953 Everest Ascent

I grew up in a household of avid readers, and am very thankful for the early and enthusiastic encouragement to spend time with books.

Travel and adventure books became a favorite, starting with the iconic yellow covers of the National Geographic magazine, and I remember the compelling stories and photographs of the first U.S. climbers to reach the summit in 1963. I suspect it was while reading the October 1963 Geographic article that I learned about the 1953 climb by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

I was immediately interested when I saw the book review in the Financial Times in early May, “The Conquest of Everest” by George Lowe and Huw Lewis-Jones to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first ascent by Hillary and Tenzing.

George Lowe’s photographs of the climb are truly special and alone are worth the price, but the writing by Lowe and several others adds an additional quality to the experience of time spent with this book. I especially enjoyed the vignettes, including the one about how Lowe and Hillary first met on a bus on the way to a climb at Mount Cook, as well as the description of the reason there is no photo of Hillary standing on the summit of Everest: he felt it wasn’t the right time and place to show Tenzing how to use the camera.

Later in May, my wife and I were on an afternoon walk through the Marina Bay Sands here in Singapore, and I spotted an unusual window display at the Bally shop highlighting the 60th anniversary of the first Everest ascent and I wondered what was the connection. I returned later to take the photo included with this post, and after a quick web search, learned that indeed Bally did make the special-order reindeer skin boots that Tenzing wore to the summit.