60 Years After Man First Climbed Everest, the Mountain Is a Mess

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Science & Space

Time can erode even the greatest of achievements, as they’re repeated or surpassed: think Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile, Chuck Yeager’s smashing of the sound barrier, Yuri Gagarin becoming the first person in space. Perhaps that has happened to Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, who 60 years ago today became the first people to reach the peak of Mount Everest. It was a mountain that had defeated or killed all who had tried before, and Hillary and Norgay were only able to remain on the peak for 15 minutes before they had to begin descending, low on oxygen. They truly went where no man had gone before.

Today, though, Everest’s peak is a decidedly less lonely place. More than 3,500 people have successfully climbed the 29,029 ft. (8,848 m) mountain — and more than a tenth of that number scaled the peak just over the past year. On one day alone…

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