National Geographic : 1954 Jul
63 Agtacolor by Michael Westmacott (c) R.G.S . and Alpine Club Holi Dust and Garlands of Frangipani Decorate the Victors at Katmandu In these elegant garments, Hillary, Hunt, and Tenzing were received by the King of Nepal and his court after the 2-week trek down from Everest's base. Griffith Pugh attended the royal ceremony in the same pair of pajamas he had worn on both march-in and march-out. Jubilant Nepalese tossed red Holi powder at the climbers as a signal honor; usually this talclike dust is flung or squirted about only on Holi day, sacred Hindu festival of spring. Hunt's party found it somewhat harder to convince the Abbot of Thyangboche that Everest had been conquered. When the climbers stopped at the monastery on their way back to Katmandu, the elderly lama asked Tenzing if he had met the gods on the summit. "No? Then you failed to reach the top. I am so sorry." Though factors of wind, snow, and the climbers' own fitness had determined the date for Everest's final ascent, the news arrived in London by happy coincidence on the eve of Coronation Day, June 2, 1953. At Base Camp the climbers listened by radio to acclamation of their feat. "Until we heard it officially announced, we didn't really believe it ourselves," said Hillary.