That final stage of the climb was most daring and overwhelming.
After leaving the final camp, Tenzing and I made for the South Summit of Everest, going higher and higher.
When we reached the South Summit, I examined the final ridge leading to the main Summit. It was absolutely monstrous.
To the left there were the upper slopes of the South West face, which towered above the Western Cwm. To the right, there were cornices overhanging the East face. One step on a cornice, would send a climber plunging over nine thousand feet to the rising Kangshung glacier.
Some way along the ridge, there was a step, some forty feet high, right by a cornice.
There was only one thing for it.
Tenzing and I had no choice, but to make our way up the ridge, which was the only route from the South Summit to the main Summit.
So we began to make our way up the ridge, which turned out to be far more challenging than the Khumbu Icefall and the Lhotse face put together.
There came a point when the ridge was so narrow, that we had to inch our way along at a snail’s pace.
Furthermore, Tenzing and I were roped together, so if one of us fell, the other would too.
Eventually, we reached the step, which had a shaft leading up the middle. On one side of the shaft was the South West face and on the other, the cornice.
So I made my way up the shaft, just hoping that the cornice wouldn’t fall away. I could sense the Kangshung face almost directly beneath my feet.
Fortunately, both Tenzing and I reached the top of the step.
From that point the ridge was less difficult and we reached the top of Everest.