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Interview With Jamling Norgay, Son of Hillary's Sherpa Guide

Aired May 29, 2003 - 19:55   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The allure of Mount Everest. At the time it seemed like mission impossible. Now 50 years later more than 1,000 people have scaled Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak. Sir Edmund Hillary credited as the first to reach the top today, was granted honorary citizenship in Nepal. There he is. Hillary, of course, made the historic climb with a Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay. Norgay died 17 years ago, but earlier I had a chance to learn more about him from his son, Jamling Norgay.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMLING NORGAY, TENZING NORGAY'S SON: I think my father was a very simple man and very humble. He came from humble origins. And you know, he climbed this mountain because it was his passion to climb mountains. He'd always dreamt of climbing Everest. And he made six attempts before he was able to finally make it on the seventh one.

COOPER: Do you think he would have had any idea 50 years later the attention both he and Sir Edmund Hillary have been getting?

NORGAY: Well, you know, we wish that my father was here to celebrate the historic climb he and Hillary achieved 50 years ago. But we know that he's very much in spirit here with us. His family is here to represent him, you know, to the fullest with Sir Edmund Hillary.

COOPER: I understand that when you told him that you wanted to climb Mount Everest he said no. He said that he had done it so that his children wouldn't have to. But you wanted to anyway and you did in 1996.

NORGAY: He wanted to send us to the best schools, get the best education, so we can continue our lives in some other careers other than climbing jobs like most, 99 percent of the Sherpas do because it's very dangerous.

And you know, I wanted to climb this mountain all my life. It was my childhood dream to do so. And although I fulfilled his wish of going to college and, you know, I continued to pursue my dream. And that was to climb this mountain.

COOPER: Sherpas play such an integral role, it would be impossible in most cases to do this without them. Do you think they get the recognition that they so much deserve? NORGAY: They are the unsung heroes of the Himalias, 98 percent of the expeditions would not be successful without the help of the Sherpas. And you know they risk their lives a lot more in getting all these people on these mountains. You know, I hope we can bring more awareness to not only the Sherpas but to the, you know, people of Nepal.

COOPER: So many people are climbing Mount Everest these days, or attempting to reach the summit, they're spending huge amounts of money. Do you think it's become too commercial, too easy in a sense for people to at least make the trip there, make the effort?

NORGAY: It has become very commercial. But it hasn't become easy because climbing Everest is still -- it's a huge task. You need determination. You need to be physically fit, mentally prepared.

I mean and even if you have the money, you still have to walk on this mountain yourself whether you have three Sherpas pulling you up this mountain. And I feel that, you know, with so much people climbing on this mountain the spirit of adventure is sort of moving out slowly because of the commercialization.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A conversation with Jamling Norgay, son of Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa guide for Sir Edmund Hillary on the first successful expedition to scale Mount Everest 50 years ago today.

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