The Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative Honours the Everest Ascent

Rolex honours the historic ascent to Everest peak with the Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative
Published: 28 April 2024
Thamserku (6623 metres) towers over the village of Namche Bazaar, where Tenzing Norgay's visitor centre is situated.

The world remembers the legacies of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, the pioneers who conquered Mount Everest. This year marks the 70th anniversary of their historic achievement. To honour this milestone, both families, in collaboration with the Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative, have revitalised two cultural hubs in the Everest region. These are tributes celebrating the rich tapestry of the history, traditions and the Sherpa culture.

Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay approaching the highest camp on Everest at 8,500 metres, May 1953.

Back in 1953, a Nepali-Indian, and Hillary, a New Zealander, scaled the highest peak of Mount Everest. This triumphant ascent, the first in recorded history, turned a lofty dream into a tangible reality. Synonymous with precision and durability, Rolex watches were a go-to for the explorers as they could endure the harshest conditions and unprecedented altitudes.

Tenzing Norgay's statue outside his visitor centre in Namche Bazaar. The peaks of Everest and Lhotse form a striking backdrop, reminding visitors of his pioneering achievements as a mountaineer.

The climb wasn’t merely a personal triumph; it marked the genesis of a profound mission. Norgay dedicated his life to empowering the Sherpa community. Since young, Norgay trained and fostered safer climbing practices and ignited a spirit of adventure with the students at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. His legacy lives on through the Tenzing Norgay Sherpa Foundation that is supported by Rolex.

Some children play in front of Sir Edmund Hillary's statue at Khumjung School. Hillary worked closely with the local Sherpa community and founded schools hospitals and health clinics across the region.

Similarly, Hillary, through The Himalayan Trust, transformed the Everest region with hospitals, schools, bridges and even the vital Tenzing-Hillary airport in Lukla bear his signature. His foundation pioneered environmental conservation by sowing seeds of reforestation around Everest’s foothills.

Dr Mingma Kanchhi Sherpa works at Kunde hospital, founded by Sir Edmund Hillary. She grew up in the area and went to the local primary school, also founded by Hillary. Once she had qualified as a doctor, she returned to her village to work.

The Perpetual Planet Initiative, launched by Rolex in 2019, amplifies this commitment. From safeguarding oceans with Mission Blue to understanding climate change with the National Geographic Society, Rolex has partnered with visionaries shaping our environmental future. Today, the initiative boasts over 20 partners, from conservation photographers like Cristina Mittermeier to organisations like the Coral Gardeners. Rolex also nurtures future explorers, scientists and conservationists through scholarships and grants.

Norbu Tenzing acknowledges the achievement of his father, Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary, saying "It was the culmination of a lifelong dream." After their acclaimed summit, both men chose to support those who live in the region.

As we celebrate the indomitable spirit of Everest’s pioneers, Rolex honours a legacy intertwined with courage, innovation and a fervent love for our planet. Rolex’s unwavering commitment ensures that these stories of triumph, not just on the world’s highest peaks but in the realm of conservation, continue to inspire generations to come. 

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