Tents pepper the ground of Everest Base Camp, tucked into the mountainside under the towering Khumbu Glacier.
Tents pepper the ground of Everest Base Camp, tucked into the mountainside under the towering Khumbu Glacier.
Photograph by Cory Richards, National Geographic

From the Photo Archive: 65 Years of Epic Everest Climbs

Decades after two climbers first summited Mount Everest, mountaineers from across the globe continue to set their sights on the world's tallest peak.

Nearly 100 years after scientists determined Mount Everest was the world’s highest peak, New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first mountaineers to reach its summit. On May 29, 1953, the two pioneered a route along the mountain’s Southeast Ridge.

"Both Tenzing and I thought that once we'd climbed the mountain, it was unlikely anyone would ever make another attempt," Sir Edmund Hillary once said. "We couldn't have been more wrong."

Since then, scores of intrepid climbers and expedition groups from all over the world have set out to meet their fate on Everest. Some followed in Hillary and Tenzing’s footsteps. Others discovered and created new paths to the top. Too many took their last breaths on Everest, never to return home.

Yet still, the dangerous allure of Everest remains, and mountaineers across the globe count down the days until climbing season begins. To commemorate these adventures, we've gathered historic photographs from our archives of the mountain and its climbers.

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