Sonam Gyatso

Sonam Gyatso

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Category: Sports & Games

Sonam Gyatso Profile

  • Name:
  • Sonam Gyatso
  • Died:
  • April 22, 1968
  • Spouse:
  • Kunzang Choden

Sonam Gyatso Biography

Sonam Gyatso was an Indian mountaineer from Sikkim who lived in the 20th century. He was the first person from Sikkim to summit Mount Everest. He also owns a couple of world records to his credit. When he scaled the peak in 1965 for the last time, he became the oldest person to summit Mount Everest. He was 42 years then. When he also spent 50 minutes at the peak, it was a world record of the longest time at the highest point on Earth. However he died of a comparatively young age of 44–45. For his contributions to the sport of mountaineering, government of India honoured him with Padma Shri in 1962 and Padma Bhushan in 1965.


Sonam Gyatso was born in Kewzing, Sikkim in 1923. He was married to Kunzang Choden and the couple had five children. Gyatso started his career in 1946 as a school teacher at Lachung. After three years he joined as a head constable of Indian Air Force. It was during this period when he got opportunity to learn mountaineering at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling in 1954. He made his first attempt in 1957 to Nanda Devi, but was unsuccessful. The following year he scaled the 26,897 feet of Cho Oyu peak, and the attempt was successful. He was a member of an all-Indian expedition, and it was for the first time when an Indian team climbed a peak of that height.


It was followed by successful expeditions such as Annapurna III in 1961, Kanchengyao in 1961, Hathi Parbat in 1963, Rathong peak and Langpo Chung in 1964. His first two attempts to scale Everest in 1960 and 1962 were unsuccessful and he finally succeeded in 22 May 1965. At the age of 42, it was a world record. His record was broken by Pierre Mazeaud on 15 October 1978 at the age of 49. He was the founder principal of Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute. He died on 22 April 1968 at New Delhi, at the age of 45. He succumbed to frost bite suffered during one of his trials.

Published: January 30, 2019

Updated: January 30, 2019

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