It has been a long road ... From a mountain coolie, a bearer of loads, to a wearer of a coat with rows of medals who is carried about in planes and worries about income tax.
One of the greatest climbers in history, and the most famous representative of the Sherpa tribe.. Tenzing was born in the small hamlet of Khumba on the Nepal-Tibet border
. His original name was Namgyal Wangdi but it was latter changed. As a youngster he got a job as a porter on the Everest expeditions, a duty for which Sherpas were valued because of their strength and even more, their breathing capacity(an important factor at the very highest altitudes). His skill became valuable enough to win him promotion until he was a Sirdar(guide or foreman) and something of a local star.
He took part in a number of climbs but his most famous was the Everest expedition of 1953. Supported by a massive expedition, he and his partner Sir Edmund Hillery were brought within reach of the summit. From there they climbed until they reached it. It became a minor controversy who got their first but both of them maintained to the end of their days that climbing was a team sport and so the issue was meaningless.
Tenzing not only won glory for himself but helped win it for his people. It was to a large degree thanks to him as well as to the unnamed hardworking porters and guides he represented that the word "Sherpa" is famous throughout the world. Before 1953, the Sherpas reputation was merely local. Afterwords people around the world know what a Sherpa is.