James Whittaker of Redmond, Washington, becomes the first American to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.
Located in the central Himalayas on the border of China and Nepal, Everest stands 29,028 feet above sea level. Called Chomo-Lungma, or “Mother Goddess of the Land,” by the Tibetans, the English named the mountain after Sir George Everest, an early 19th-century British surveyor of the Himalayas. In May 1953, climber and explorer Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal made the first successful climb of the peak. Queen Elizabeth II later knighted Hillary for the achievement. Ten years later, American James Whittaker reached Everest’s summit with his Sherpa climbing partner, Nawang Gombu. The first American woman to successfully climb Everest was Stacy Allison in 1988.