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Mount Everest's arduous summit reached 60 years ago, and now open to the public

Adrian Ballinger / AP

In this image released by mountain guide Adrian Ballinger of Alpenglow Expeditions and taken Saturday, May 18, a climber prepares to descend the Hillary Step as he makes his way down from the summit of Mount Everest, in the Khumbu region of the Nepal Himalayas. Nepal celebrated the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Mount Everest on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, by honoring climbers who followed in the footsteps of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Keystone-france / Getty Images Contributor

It has been 60 years since Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest on the Nepal-Tibet border. The pair reached the peak, 29,028 feet up, after an exhausting climb up the southern face. Here they enjoy a cup of tea iddle of the mountains just after having reached the summit of Mt. Everest in 1953.

George W. Hales / Getty Images

Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest on the Nepal-Tibet border 9,028 feet up, after an exhausting climb up the southern face. On July 3, 1953 Tenzing Norgay, center, and Edmund Hillary, right, make a jubilant return to Britain after becoming the first men to scale Mount Everest.

Popperfoto / Getty Images Contributor

The front page of the News Chronicle dedicated to the first successful climbing of Mt, Everest on May 29th 1953 when Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing reached the summit.

 

Adrian Ballinger / AP

In this image released by mountain guide Adrian Ballinger of Alpenglow Expeditions and taken Saturday, May 18, climbers navigate the knife-edge ridge just below the Hillary Step on their way to the summit of Mount Everest, in the Khumbu region of the Nepal Himalayas. Sixty years ago Wednesday, Sir Edmund Hillary and climbing partner Tenzing Norgay were the first to set foot on the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on earth on May 29, 1953.

By John Roach, Contributing Writer, NBC News

Sixty years ago, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay struggled to make the first ascent of Mt. Everest — but today, anyone with an Internet connection can easily trek to basecamp, take a virtual flight over the region's glaciers, and see how the mountain has changed over the years. 

"What we've heard from the scientists that study these specific glaciers is that the melt rate is increasing dramatically," David Breashears, a famed mountaineer and filmmaker, told NBC News. 

"One then says, well if we continue to put more carbon into the air … what will the glaciers look like and what will the consequences be?" Continue reading here.

On the 50th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary's climb to the top of Mt. Everest, he sat down with TODAY's Ann Curry in 2003 to talk about that moment, and how he has since devoted his life to building hospitals and schools for the Sherpa people who helped him reach the world-famous summit.