In a media interview Sir Edmund adamantly maintained that the rumor was nonsense. He said, ‘I led all the way along the Southern Ridge, cutting steps, and then up towards the summit. Then we could see the summit ahead of us. We took in a bit of the rope, and I moved up in top, and I guess Tenzing would have been five or six paces behind.’ He added that Tenzing and he had agreed to say that they reached the summit ‘almost together’.
So, what did Tenzing say? In his 1955 autobiography, ‘Tigar of the Snows’, he recalled the moment; ‘A little way below the summit, Hillary and I stopped… I was not thinking of ‘first’ or ‘second’. I did not say to myself: There is a golden apple up there. I will push Hillary aside and run for it. We went on slowly, steadily. And then we were there. Hillary stepped on top first. And I stepped on after him. The dream had come true.’
Tenzing lived rest of his life in relative obscurity, teaching mountaineering in Darjeeling. He died on May, 1986, aged 72. His family members and admirers always maintained that he was being generous in giving credit to Hillary and the New Zealander laid his claim only after Tenzing died and wasn’t there to defend himself.