1953 Everest Expedition - News reached Britain on Coronation Day

The Hunt expedition totalled over 400 people, including 362 porters, 20 Sherpa guides and 10,000 lbs of baggage and was a team effort.

The expedition set up base camp in March 1953, then the final camp at the South Col at 25,900 feet. On 26 May Bourdillon and Evans attempted the climb and had reached the South Summit, coming within 300 vertical feet of the summit. They had to turn back when Evans' oxygen system failed. Hunt then directed Hillary and Tenzing to go for the summit.

Snow and wind held them up at the South Col for two days. They pitched a tent at 27,900 feet on 28 May while their support group returned down the mountain. On the following morning Hillary discovered that his boots had frozen solid outside the tent. He spent two hours warming them before he and Tenzing attempted the final ascent wearing 30-pound packs. The crucial move of the last part of the ascent was the 40-foot rock face later named the "Hillary Step." Hillary saw a means to wedge his way up the crack in the face between the rock wall and the ice and Tenzing followed.

Tenzing Norgay stated that Hillary had taken the first step atop Mount Everest, but Hillary said that they both reached the summit at the same time - 29,028 ft at 11:30am. As Hillary put it, "A few more whacks of the ice ace in the firm snow, and we stood on top."

They spent only about 15 minutes at the summit. Tenzing left chocolates in the snow as an offering and Hillary left a cross that he had been given by John Hunt. Additional photos were taken down the mountain in order to confirm that they had made it to the top and that the ascent was not faked.

The two had to take care on the descent after discovering that drifting snow had covered their tracks, complicating the task of retracing their steps. The first person they met was Lowe, who had climbed up to meet them with hot soup.

The 37 members of the party received the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation medal with MOUNT EVEREST EXPEDITION engraved on the rim. Hillary and Hunt were knighted by the young queen.