After Everest Was Conquered, He Ran 200 Miles to Tell the World

'Outside' shares the untold story of Ten Tsewang Sherpa
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2024 9:31 AM CDT
He Ran 200 Miles to Share Edmund Hillary's News
   (Getty Images / Karin Dohmen)

The legendary Greek messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens to share news of a Greek victory over the Persians has nothing on Ten Tsewang Sherpa. He's a man who had slipped into the shadows of history after delivering "perhaps the last piece of world news ever sent by a runner," writes Peter Frick-Wright for Outside: News that the British—by way of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay—had in 1953 been the first to successfully summit Mount Everest. The world had waited with baited breath for the news. A race had been underway to reach the top, and had England failed, France had the permits that would let them try next. A London Times reporter stationed at 21,000 feet took the news to Base Camp. From there, mail runners needed to communicate the feat.

Two set off for Namache, which had a radio transmitter. But with uncertainty surrounding whether it would be working, Ten Tsewang Sherpa was tasked with heading to the British Embassy in Kathmandu, some 200 miles away. "His name, as far as I could tell, had never been written down," writes Frick-Wright. He learned about him by way of his grandson, Ang Pemba Sherpa, with the two hatching a plan to trek essentially the same route together. When Ten Tsewang ran the punishing route he was 20 and already a father to four. He would have headed sharply downhill before turning west, where the trail elevation swings between 5,000 and 11,500 feet. He died a few weeks later, with his son theorizing "low-altitude sickness" was to blame. (Read the fascinating full story here.)

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