Tenzing, Tashi 1965-
TENZING, Tashi 1965-
PERSONAL: Born November 30, 1965.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Ragged Mountain Press, P.O. Box 220, Camden, ME 04843.
CAREER: Guide, mountaineering instructor. Owner of Tenzing's Expeditions in Australia; guides in Antarctic for Aurora Expeditions, Australia.
(With wife, Judy Tenzing) Tenzing Norgay and the Sherpas of Everest, Ragged Mountain Press (Camden, ME), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Tashi Tenzing is the grandson of Tenzing Norgay, who with Sir Edmund Hillary, was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. Tashi Tenzing's own climb in 1997 marked the first time a third generation of one family did so. Tenzing Norgay, also known as "Tiger of Snows," was married three times. He outlived his first two wives and died in 1986. Jamling, a son from his third marriage climbed Everest in 1996.
Tenzing lives in Australia with his wife Judy, who is his coauthor for Tenzing Norgay and the Sherpas of Everest, a tribute to his grandfather and the Sherpas who have accompanied every Everest expedition but who have received little recognition for their contributions. Hillary and the Dalai Lama wrote forewords for the book, which contains both personal and historic photographs and accounts of the Sherpa culture. But foremost, it is about Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who achieved greatness but who was never comfortable as a celebrity. He retreated to his village, where he worked to improve the lot of his people, and also became head of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, and trained Sherpas and others in the art of mountaineering. It was never determined who actually reached the summit first, Hillary or Tenzing, but obviously neither could have done it without the other.
A reviewer for Frontline, India's national magazine, wrote that the book is "about Tenzing, about the ethos, the charm, the attraction, and the fear of the great Himalayan peaks. For Sherpas, as for most Nepalese and Hindus, the Himalayas were the abode of the gods, the source of sacred rivers. They were to be worshipped, not climbed or conquered. . . . Then gradually Chomolungma, or the 'Goddess mother of the world' as the Tibetans called Everest, began to be looked upon as a mountain to be climbed and not a monument to be worshipped. Nevertheless, most Sherpas still hold that the spirits of their ancestors dwell in these beautiful but fearsome peaks." The reviewer concluded by saying that "this is a splendid book and I greatly enjoyed reading it."
Tenzing Norgay climbed Everest seven times before reaching the summit with Hillary, including a climb with a Swiss team in 1952 which was unsuccessful due to severe weather and inadequate oxygen equipment. But he and others before him who were too often seen only as porters created opportunities for the Sherpas who followed. Then they were used to carry equipment and serve the goals of Westerners. Some reached the summit as many as eleven times, and some did it without using oxygen cylinders. Now equipment is more advanced, and communications and helicopter rescues and medicines are available. Still, lives continue to be lost on Everest. Only in recent decades has treatment based on race become more equal, this in part because Tenzing Norgay's achievement gained new respect for the skill and integrity of the Sherpas.
Sherpa climbers now earn four times the average wage of a Nepali. Anjana Basu wrote for South Asian Women's Forum online that "Tenzing Norgay and his generation of climbers forged a path that the Sherpa people now navigate daily. Their pioneering accomplishments served as a bridge from the communities' isolated, subsistence past to the 'relative affluence and sophistication that they enjoy today,' writes Tenzing."
Erik Weihenmayer reviewed the book for Time International. Weihenmayer wrote, "Namche Bazaar, the trading capital of the Khumbu Valley, once comprising a few dozen mud houses, now features neon lights, sophisticated communications systems, and blaring rock music. The Khumbu is dotted with medical clinics and schools. But the climbing and trekking industry has brought with it the erosion of the traditional trading and farming life and the ills of rapid growth: drugs, inflation, deforestation. In this testament to Sherpas past and present, Tashi Tenzing is confident that his people will face these challenges with the same determination as their forefathers who faced Everest." A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that the book "will appeal to the wide audience for survival books, as it tells familiar stories from a fresh point of view."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Publishers Weekly, November 26, 2001, review of Tenzing Norgay and the Sherpas of Everest, p. 53.
Time International, January 28, 2002, Erik Weihenmayer, "Men of the Mountain," p. 48.
Frontline Web site (India), http://www.flonnet.com/ (February 16, 2002), review of Tenzing Norgay and the Sherpas of Everest.
South Asian Women's Forum,http://www.sawf.org/ (May 13, 2002), Anjana Basu, review of Tenzing Norgay and the Sherpas of Everest.*