"ON EVEREST, THERE ARE NO TRUE VICTORS.
THERE ARE ONLY SURVIVORS."
In Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the First Successful American Ascent of Mount Everest, National Geographic
Will Re-Air 1965 Classic TV Special
Special Night of Exploration Presentation of
"Americans on Everest" Airs Friday, May 24, at 8 p.m. ET/PT
(Washington, D.C. - May 15, 2013) Fifty years ago this month, a team of expert climbers became the first Americans to summit Mt. Everest, the world's tallest mountain, in an expedition sponsored in part by the National Geographic Society. Two years after this historic climb, National Geographic released its first-ever television special, Americans on Everest, which followed this group of brave climbers from base camp to the top of the world. To mark the anniversary this month, the National Geographic Channel will air this classic special, narrated by the legendary Orson Welles, on Friday, May 24, at 8 p.m. ET/PT during the weekly Night of Exploration programming block.
The film takes viewers through the painstaking preparations and the highs and lows of one of mankind's most challenging feats. The American Mount Everest Expedition included 19 members ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-40s, who ironically were led by Swiss climber Norman Dyhrenfurth. Following two years of preparation, the team's journey began in February 1963 in Katmandu, Nepal, where they were joined by 37 sherpas and more than 900 porters who carried more than 27 tons of medical supplies, oxygen tanks, food and other equipment on the 16-day trek to Everest's base camp.
The plan of attack for the mountain called for two ascents: one that followed the previous expeditions up the Southeast Ridge, and the other up the then-untried West Ridge. After weeks of ascending, acclimating and resting, on May 1, 1963, Jim Whitaker and Sherpa Nawang Gombu reached the peak, planting both the American and National Geographic Society flags.
For the second campaign, the team coordinated two simultaneous assaults on the peak: one blazing the new trail up the West Ridge and the other following the southeast trail that Whitaker and Gombu had just completed, with both groups meeting at the summit and descending together. On May 22, Lute Jerstad and National Geographic magazine photographer Barry Bishop reached the apex, seeing the flags left behind by Whitaker and taking the first-ever moving pictures from the summit of Everest. On their descent from the summit they are joined, they are joined by their colleagues Willi Unsoeld and Tom Hornbein, who had completed the more challenging trek up the West Ridge. Forced to spend the night on the side of the mountain, all four successfully descended and returned to base camp with only a few toes missing.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL
Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channels US are a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Networks. The Channels contribute to the National Geographic Society's commitment to exploration, conservation and education with smart, innovative programming and profits that directly support its mission. Launched in January 2001, National Geographic Channel (NGC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with the debut of NGC HD. In 2010, the wildlife and natural history cable channel Nat Geo WILD was launched, and in 2011, the Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo was unveiled. The Channels have carriage with all of the nation's major cable, telco and satellite television providers, with NGC currently available in 85 million U.S. homes. Globally, National Geographic Channel is available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries and 38 languages. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com.