LIFE

He was destined to scale the Everest

Jamling at the promotion of National Geographic Channel's series, Mission Everest.  

DID TENZING Norgay's son, Jamling, climb before he crawled or vice versa? The question may sound flippant, but we have good reason for asking it. Because Jamling, now a father of three, was "climbing mountains by the age of six or seven".

"My father actively discouraged me. But in 1996, after I climbed the Everest, relatives said my father (he passed away in 1986) had always known that I would conquer it one day," Jamling reminisces. In Bangalore to promote National Geographic Channel's new series, Mission Everest, to be launched on April 20, Jamling spoke about what Mount Everest meant to him. "My father has always been a role model to me. In 1996, on the final day of the climb, I was at 26,000 feet and I felt my dad's presence, his spirit around me. Then I knew I would make it," he said.

He was the ninth member of his family to climb the Everest. "In 1953, my father took some candies with him as my half sister wanted him to leave some of it on the summit. I wanted to do the same thing and took my then 10-month-old daughter's elephant-shaped rattle, without her permission of course," he said. He placed photos of his late father and mother and prayed to Chomolungma (Tibetan for Goddess Mother of the World, as the Everest is known to people there).

Asked about the series, Jamling was happy that more young Indians wanted to do mountaineering. The channel reportedly got 30,000 entries for its contest to select Indians for a 50th anniversary commemorative climb. Five Indians, aged 18 to 35, were selected, trained by the Indian Army, and taken up to 17,500-18,000 feet on the Everest. In 50 years, things have changed a lot. Climbers no longer carry so much weight. "In 1953, they carried 23 tons, now it is down to one or two tons. Then, there was no means of communication. Now we can make calls from the summit using satellite phones," Jamling pointed out. Today, he runs Tenzing Norgay Adventures in Darjeeling. "People aged between 17 and 70 come to me. I also conduct clean-up expeditions with children from the U.S. and Canada," he said. But he has promised his wife that he will not climb the Everest again.

"I do not need to. My spiritual journey is over. Besides, I have other mountains to climb."

By Divya Sreedharan