(1914–86) A Nepalese-Tibetan mountaineer who with Edmund Hillary achieved the first known ascent of Everest (29 May 1953), the world's highest mountain peak; he is often referred to as ‘Sherpa Tenzing’. Tenzing was the eleventh of thirteen children; his father was a yak herder. After a restless childhood, Tenzing settled in Darjeeling, India; he gained experience of the mountains as a high-altitude porter on British climbing expeditions in the 1930s, and ascended a record height on Everest with a Swiss expedition in 1952. The ice pick that Tenzing stuck into the peak of Everest had the flags of India, Nepal, the UK, and the UN flying from it, and academic and journalistic debates have flourished since as to who was the first man to reach the top, and what the meaning of the achievement was in terms of a changing, postcolonial world. (See for instance Peter H. Hansen and Gordon T. Stewart, ‘Debate—Tenzing's Two Wrist Watches: The Conquest of Everest and Late Imperial Culture in Britain 1921–1953’, Past and Present, 157, 1997.) Tenzing was awarded the George Medal by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, and established a successful mountaineering school, though his later life also included a losing battle with alcoholism.
From A Dictionary of Sports Studies in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.