May 29th marks the seventieth anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest, which took place on May 29th 1953. Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary were the two climbers who reached the summit, but the party (most of whom did not climb above Base Camp) numbered fifteen in total – eleven from Britain, two from New Zealand (including Edmund Hillary) and two from Nepal (including Tenzing Norgay).
Among the British climbers was George Band who was a pupil at Eltham College from 1937 to 1947. After leaving school he studied geology at Cambridge and petroleum engineering at Imperial College London; at just 24 he was the youngest member of the climbing team. He later spent his professional life in oil and gas engineering but not before he had become one of a two-man team to make the first ascent of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain, in May 1955.
George Band (1929-2011) made a number of visits to the school following his time here – he served as the vice-president of the 1994 appeal to build the new Sports Hall and in 2003 was Guest of Honour at Speech Day. The climbing wall in the Sports Hall, installed in 2018, is named after him – and we think the seventieth anniversary of his most famous achievement is worth celebrating here!