Compared to the other texts we’ve read, this one displays a stark difference in its treatment of the summit. The final third of his book revolves around the fact that he actually summited, while some of the other stories devote merely a paragraph to the top of the mountain. This can be explained by Norgay’s personal reasons for climbing. His are markedly distinct from other climbers who seek personal gain. Norgay criticizes those who try to dominate the mountain or approach “the peak with aggression, like a "soldier doing battle" (257). He believes that "express[ing] gratitude” (257) is the only way to experience a successful climb. This perspective on truly respecting Everest is starkly different from the imperialistic mentality that many people assume – climbers whose primary aim is to be the “first” to do something. In comparison, Norgay justifies his climb with the hope to bring himself closer to his father and to understand his father’s life. His father didn’t spend much time with him during his childhood, and although having bitter feelings towards him, Norgay deeply respected and admired him: “his absence was what I had resented when I was a boy – a boy who wanted to join him and be with him, and grow up to be like him” (124). Norgay’s father and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first men to summit Everest, and because of this, Norgay’s motivations for actually summiting Everest made reaching the physical summit itself more important than it was for other climbers. If Norgay hadn’t actually reached the summit of Everest, arguably he would not have found the “first step, [the] beginning…of a new and different life” that he equates with reaching the summit, and he would not have been “freed from following [his] father” (290).
By actually summiting Everest, Norgay could transfer his anxieties about his relationship with his father and his struggles with his father’s death into finally reaching the summit. “My own attachment to my father lingered…until I climbed Everest. I feel that I released him on the summit. The respect and the love and the memories remain today – but not as the attachment, the push and pull of father and son, the compulsion to please and impress him, or the stinging desire to have him back” (301). If Norgay hadn’t physically reached the summit, he would not have had the accomplishment of achieving what his father first did, and he would not have completed his a journey that paralleled his father’s. Norgay says, “Both of our dreams have come true” (255); summiting Everest was both Norgay’s own personal wish and his father’s desire for his son. By accomplishing his summit attempt, Norgay not only carried on his family’s name and continued the Norgay connection to Everest, he also achieved the consuming dream that both he and his father had focused on.
By summiting, Norgay proved that he was his father’s son. His photographed pose atop the summit resembled his father’s: “My pose, I saw later, was not identical to my father’s, but its mirror image. My climb was similarly a reflection of my father’s, reflecting his life and his values, yet distinctly my own” (257). Without reaching the summit, Norgay would not have been able to complete this parallel journey that was so important to him. More importantly, he wouldn’t have been able to make it his own and separate himself from his father. Even though the 1996 Everest expeditions were riddled with tragedies, on a personal level, without actually reaching the summit, his experience would have been clouded by the failure of not reaching the top.