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6 Stories To Mark 60 Years Since First Summit Of Everest

Mount Everest.
AFP/Getty Images
Mount Everest.

On this, the 60th anniversary of the first successful summit of the world's tallest mountain, there's plenty of news about Mount Everest. Here are six stories we found interesting:

-- Nepalese climber Min Bahadur Sherchan, who at the age of 81 was trying to reclaim the title of oldest person to have reached the top, "has abandoned his attempt," The Associated Press says. It was just last week that Japan's Yuichiro Miura, 80, reached the summit and laid claim to the age record. Sherchan was then at a base camp on the mountain. But according to the AP, weather conditions have kept Sherchan from trying to go higher.

-- Russian extreme sports star Valery Rozov on Wednesday successfully made the highest BASE jump ever recorded when he flew off the north face of Everest from 23,680 feet above sea level. The AP has some video.

-- The BBC recounts how journalist James Morris (now Jan Morris) got the news out in 1953 that New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had reached Everest's peak. Morris had to descend from 22,000 feet and give a coded message to a runner — who then went on foot more than 20 miles to get to a radio. From there "the message was sent by the bicycle-powered radio station in Morse code to the Indian and British embassies in Kathmandu."

-- Along with instant communications, 60 years have brought other major changes to Everest, as Time magazine reports. Perhaps most notably, there are the crowds: "More than 3,500 people have successfully climbed the 29,029 ft. mountain — and more than a tenth of that number scale the peak just over the last year. On one day alone in 2012, 234 climbers reached the peak. As more and more people try to test themselves against Everest — often paying over $100,000 for a 'guided climb' — this desolate mountain is becoming as crowded as a Tokyo subway car at rush hour."

-- Even as "Nepal marked the diamond jubilee of the first ascent of Mount Everest on Wednesday with a parade of veteran climbers," The Guardian adds that the country's government also pledged "to demand higher levels of experience, technical competence and fitness from those hoping to climb the mountain in the future."

-- And then there's CNN "Mount Everest: By the numbers." Among the figures it features: A peak of 29,035 feet above sea level (vs. Time's 29,029; CNN says recent measurements have added some feet); total ascents, 5,654 and counting; number of deaths, 219.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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