In Hillary and Tenzing's Bootprints

A few years after I went blind at the age of 13, I sent away for a Braille book about Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's ascent of Mount Everest. As I read, I imagined with fear and delight the two pioneers standing only 60 meters below the summit at the base of a 12-meter vertical rock face, later named the Hillary Step, desperately hoping it could be scaled. In 1953, so much of modern mountaineering was still to be discovered. Archaic clothing and tents made Everest's frigid temperatures lethal. Oxygen bottles were three times heavier than today's. Deadly altitude illnesses, little...

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