A heartfelt and personal look at the forgotten men behind the 1953 Everest ascent.
Writer of Everest Untold Gareth Davies explains the questions and theories that acted as inspiration for his 5th Play.
“I was born in February 1953 and at that time Everest had not been climbed. Humans could develop an atomic bomb in 1945 that could wipe out a city, break the sound barrier in 1948 in the Bell X-1 aircraft, and in 1952 develop a hydrogen bomb whose progeny could wipe out the planet. And yet it wasn’t till 1953 that they climbed the highest mountain in the world. Only 4 years later the Russians would launch Sputnik and four years after that launch Yuri Gagarin into space. Amongst all these technological marvels how was it that we struggled to climb the highest piece of rock on the planet?
Why was it that those who went before failed? Why was it that those who went in 53 succeeded? I felt it was worth finding out. As a Kiwi (I have lived in NZ for 33 years) when I realised that there were two New Zealanders on the climb, not just Ed Hillary, I wanted to know more about George Lowe, the “other Kiwi”.
And what about another forgotten man, Colonel Sir John Hunt? Hunt was the expedition leader, who many thought of as the greatest Englishman of the second half of the twentieth century – what exactly did he do? When the film “Conquest of Everest” was premiered the same year in Leicester Square in London, John Hunt had star billing – ahead of both Ed then Tenzing!
After I did the research, I discovered that the 1953 summiting of Everest was a lot more than the “Ed and Tenzing show”; that each team member played an important role; that both Sir John and George Lowe were critical to the ultimate success of Ed and Tenzing; and that but for some small twists of fate, the story of the climb would have had a different ending.
With all the answers to the questions I had posed to myself, I put pen to paper with the intention of filling in the historical blanks in an entertaining way. Brought to life by actors Stephen Lovatt (John Hunt) and Edwin Wright (George Lowe), and director Toby Leach, Everest Untold is the result. I hope you enjoy it.”
Gareth Davies, Writer