Mount Everest

Burma Military Police
November 15, 2018
The Gully Cup
November 16, 2018

Mount Everest


The Gurkha association with Mt. Everest dates back to 1922, when Col. Charles Bruce, an officer in 6th Gurkha Rifles, First World War veteran and keen mountaineer, led the first British expedition to attempt to climb Everest. Though the attempt ultimately failed, the expedition members were awarded an Olympic Medal for Alpinism in 1924 (see our page on the 1924 Olympic Medal for more information). Bruce would go on to lead the subsequent second British attempt to climb Mt. Everest in 1924. Unfortunately, early on in the expedition Bruce fell ill with malaria and had to relinquish command of the expedition. Two of the expedition’s climbers, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, disappeared on the expedition’s third attempt to reach the summit, and the expedition returned unsuccessful, though it has been speculated that Mallory and Irvine did in fact reach the summit but died during their descent.

The first undisputed successful ascent of Mt. Everest (known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Chomolungma in Tibet) occurred on May 29th 1953, when Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal reached the summit as part of a British expedition. Both Hillary and Tenzing would be made famous by this event. The Gurkha Museum holds a pair of snow goggles and ice axe, belonging to Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, donated to the museum as part of a collection of Nepalese material. After the historic ascent Tenzing continued on to have a successful career as a mountaineer and author.

The Gurkha connection to Everest was reaffirmed when in 2015 a team composed of serving Gurkha soldiers and officers set out to complete the climb and, in the process, become the first serving Gurkha soldiers to ever do so. Unfortunately, during the expedition a series of devastating earthquakes struck Nepal, rendering any attempt to continue the climb impossible, as the team immediately set about rendering on-the-ground assistance to those affected by the disaster. Undaunted, an expedition returned in 2017. Three Gurkhas successfully reached the summit on May 15th, and a further ten Gurkha soldiers reached the summit the next day.


An ice hammer used by Lt. Chris Boote during the 2017 expedition was presented to the Gurkha Museum in 2018 by Major Andrew Todd MBE, who served as deputy leader of the expedition. Though the materials and style are radically different, the function of both Lt. Boote’s and Tensing Norgay’s climbing equipment remains the same

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