Jamling Tenzing Norgay and Peter Hillary
presenting on Stage at McData Event in Denver
Touching My Father’s
Soul – An Odyssey to the Top of Everest
An illustrated presentation by Jamling Tenzing Norgay
“I climbed Everest so that my children wouldn’t have
Ever since Jamling Tenzing Norgay’s father, Tenzing Norgay,
spoke these words to his son, Jamling had been seized by a passion to follow
in his father’s historic footsteps -- to step onto Mount Everest’s icy skin
and learn the lessons she has to teach.
Destiny reserves the telling of some tales for certain
people. In the illustrated presentation, Touching My Father’s Soul – An
Odyssey to the Top of Everest, Jamling brings to life a profound and
compelling adventure, interweaving the lives of a family, a mountain and a
people, and of climbers facing nearly insurmountable obstacles. It is a story
of disaster, triumph, professionalism and the resilience of the human
Clearly, it takes an unusual level of aspiration to simply
decide to attempt Everest. And to reach the summit and return safely to base
camp demands extraordinary commitment and perseverance. On Everest, the
stakes are high: Only one climber in seven who attempt it reaches the top. Of
every five who do reach the summit, one dies trying.
The challenges are nearly overwhelming. Even veteran
climbers face hypoxia (lack of oxygen -- and the reduction in strength that
accompanies it), altitude sickness, intestinal sickness, severe weight loss,
homesickness, brutal weather conditions, recalcitrant porters, strained
international group dynamics (11 teams crowded onto the mountain in 1996), and
"objective dangers" such as being crushed by apartment-sized blocks of ice
that litter the Khumbu Icefall, a glacier in motion.
Planning an Everest assault begins with piecing together a
strategic puzzle: the pyramid of support whose foundation is balanced on the
edge of an ominous, shifting glacier at 18,000 feet. Two tons of food,
cooking fuel, supplemental oxygen, rope, hardware, tents -- all must be
carefully packed and dispatched in stages to the four high camps on the
In addition, the IMAX Filming team brought one of the
world's heaviest cameras, and hundreds of pounds of film (8 pounds of IMAX
film lasts 90 seconds). At altitudes where team members cut their
toothbrushes in half to save weight, careful planning defines the success, and
safety, of the expedition.
Selection of the IMAX filming team was critical. And it was
excruciating for Jamling and expedition leader David Breashears to tell ailing
climber Sumiyo Tsuzuki, the night before their successful climb, that she must
remain on the South Col. The leaders must exercise judgment, and in this case
they were obliged to make sure that Sumiyo would return home safely, to have a
future chance for the summit. Within the “death zone” above 26,000 feet, a
teammate or other climber in trouble puts all nearby climbers at risk.
Judgment calls are difficult, and at this elevation they are downright
In Touching My Father’s Soul – An Odyssey to the Top of
Everest, Jamling uses expedition slides to illustrate not only the
organization and dynamics of the IMAX Filming team’s Everest climb, but he
explores the natural and human events that led to the loss of 8 climbers in
one storm and 12 climbers over the season. The IMAX team responded to the
tragedy skillfully and compassionately, by shifting gears and immediately
dedicating all of their oxygen and resources to the rescue. Two weeks later,
following intense soul searching, consultation with Jamling’s family priest
and study of weather conditions, they reached the top with the IMAX camera.
One seldom sees such a level of organization and team effort: to film from the
summit required that 11 people reach the top along with the camera, while 40
others delivered supplies and provided critical backup.
Throughout, Jamling interweaves the little known story of
his father’s historic first ascent in1953, with Edmund Hillary, and shows how
the mountain has changed in the past half century -- and how it hasn’t.
The Message: As Jamling found on Everest, in this
captivating program we find more than personal triumph and family honor. We
discover that climbing this mountain safely requires leadership, planning,
confidence, commitment, apprenticeship, experience, judgment, strength,
persistence, patience, professionalism, teamwork, respect and humility -- all
in a measured balance. For each of these attributes, Jamling provides
examples of how they were used to further his team’s effort, how they
contributed to their safety, success and response to the tragedy.
With the right combination of attributes and proper
motivation, climbers are sometimes granted a chance to step onto Everest’s icy
skin, and then retreat, taking with them important lessons about the human
condition and what it takes to succeed. Indeed, the Sherpa people especially
recognize that one can’t conquer Everest, and that respect and experience are
one’s most essential companions. The objective is not the top of the
mountain, for that would be like setting a goal of swimming to the middle of
the ocean. Or, as team member Ed Viesturs put it, “Getting to the top is
optional, but getting down is mandatory.”
Aspiration and ambition are essential, but
the mountain cannot be climbed on hopes and dreams alone. In this program, we
learn about what it really takes to succeed, and we learn some of the lessons
that this dangerous mountain has to teach us.
It turns out that Jamling did have to
climb Everest – in order to learn these lessons himself. To Book Jamling or
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More on Jamling Tenzing Norgay
In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the
first men to reach the sacred summit of Mount Everest. Retracing his father’s
historic footsteps. Jamling Tenzing Norgay summitted Mount Everest in 1996,
just two weeks after nine people died in the mountains most deadly storm ever
Not only did Jamling Tenzing Norgay make it to the top of
the world’s most forbidding mountain – described by the Sherpa people as “ The
Mother Goddess of the World” – but he also helped capture it all on film. As
the star of Director David Breashears Imax film Everest, Norgay helped to
portray not only the physical challenges of the Mountain, but also the mental
and spiritual challenges faced by the climbers.
Described as the “ Titanic of
Documentaries,” Everest has played to sold out audiences across the country,
capturing for the first time on large format film the breathtaking view from
Everest’s summit. Filmed during the same spring that nine people on Everest
died in a sudden storm, it depicts the selflessness exhibited by Norgay and
his companions in risking their own lives to save their fellow climbers. For
his bravery, Norgay received His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s Award, as well as
the National Citizen’s award from the President of India. Norgay is the tenth
person in the Norgay family to stand at the top of the world.
Jamling Tenzing Norgay was born in
Darjeeling, India and by age six had already begun to show a penchant for
climbing. He quickly became his father’s right-hand man on climbs organized by
the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. In 1986, the great Tenzing passed
away, and Norgay began to think more seriously about Everest.
In 1995, Imax movie director David
Breashears went to Nepal in search of participants for his movie. Breashears
thought Norgay was a perfect choice to represent the culture of the Sherpa
people, and to continue the legend of his father. Prior to the climb, Norgay
sponsored the lighting of 25,000 butter lamps at a temple in Kathmandu as a
prayer for protection and success.
While filming on the mountain, Jamling
thought often about his father, trying to imagine what he had gone through in
the early days. “ It was much harder then, “ Norgay says. “ There was no
route; he and (Hillary) didn’t even know if the summit was achievable. Many
On his summit day, as the younger Norgay
approached “ The Balcony “ (at 27,000 feet Hillary ‘s and his father’s last
camp), Norgay looked for remnants –but of course, there was nothing but snow
and ice. “ I never felt so strong in my life. It was as if my father’s spirit
was with me,” he says, describing his conditions as he inched closer to the
top. “ Just when I thought I’d never get there, I saw Ed Viesturs coming down
and he said, ‘Hey, it’s right there’”.
Norgay recalls feeling so happy that he
cried. A Buddhist, he planted a lungta (prayer flag) and photos of the Dalai
Lama and his late parents in the pristine summit snow. Then, just as his
father had done 43 years earlier, he left a small toy of his daughter ‘s and
struck “the pose” – the same dignified stance his father had assumed in 1953,
which had etched an indelible image in the minds of the millions who had read
about it afterward.
Norgay released his new book “Touching My Father’s Soul” in
the spring of 2001 in San Francisco, and it has been released in 18 languages
since then. His book has reached the 24 spot on the New York Times Best
sellers list, and # 15 in Germany. It has been nominated for 3 awards in
Canada, London and the U.S.
Today Norgay runs his adventure travel company “Tenzing
Norgay Adventures” in Darjeeling, India and is often asked whether there are
more big summits in his future. “ I promised my wife that after Everest, I
would never climb again,” says Norgay.” I will not break my word.
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