The interview was taped and the tape
was reviewed with a second translator ensure correct translations.
Xu Jing, Deputy leader of the leader
of the 1960 Chinese Expedition to Everest.
Xu Jing was also part of the 1958
expedition, and the leader of the 1964 Chinese expedition.
belief in communal effort means he uses the Chinese word "women" which means
"we" a lot, instead of "wo" which means the singular "I". "Women" can refer to
either himself or to the group as a whole -- Chinese people are often very
inexact about these things, particularly older ones.
[" "] are direct quotes from Xu
Jing. Comments in italics are the journalist comments or notes.
“We saw the body of Mallory
“In 1975, Wang Hongbao came
across the body. At 8,100 meters he found a foreign ice axe. Later on he had
an accident, he was killed in an avalanche.”
found a body and the ice axe next to the body in 1975.
To the question of pictures:
“For dozens of years
we weren’t aware of the need to take pictures. We just didn’t realize how
significant a lot of this was. In 1964 I led a second team to the Himalayas."
To how it all got started:
“In those years China was cooperating a lot with the Soviet Union but they
wouldn’t go with us. Before the Everest climb our record was 7,000 meters so
we went to Beijing University where they recommended that we learn from the
Royal Geographical Society’s magazine, which was very useful and
inspirational. You could say we climbed the mountain inspired by the British
pioneers. That is mountaineering – you learn from the experience of others. In
1958 I investigated the route. We tried every route but the British route was
the most scientific, it was longer but it was safer.“
“In 1955 there was a
goodwill visit to the Soviet Union, which suggested we start a mountaineering
team, we’d never heard of the sport.”
Mr Xu spent two
years in a labour camp during the Cultural Revolution (1968-1978), where he
was tortured and forced to perform demeaning tasks, including gathering human
waste to make fertilizer. During this period all his photographs were
“I have no photographs left – they were all lost during the Cultural
Revolution. Mountaineering was considered counter-revolutionary and the
photographs were destroyed.
“In 1975 we tried Everest again. 10 climbers,
including one woman, did it.”
“Everest is Number One,” he said in English.
Born in 1927, he will be 78
years old in two months time.
“I understood why Mallory
and Irvine took the risk. They wanted to show our potential as human beings.
They weren’t mad.
The Final Chapter of Sandy Irvine
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