After becoming the first man to climb Mount Everest Sir Edmund Hillary returned to North Wales where he had trained for the historic event.
Planning to meet up with Lord Hunt and the rest of the expedition for their first-ever reunion, Hillary arrived late at the Pen y Gwryd hotel and was told that everyone had already set off for the summit of Snowdon.
Without bothering to change into appropriate clothing, Hillary set off after his friends.
Halfway up he was accosted by a distinguished-looking gentleman who told him off for wearing inappropriate clothing which gave “hill walkers and climbers a bad name”.
The story, infused with humour and cut from the DNA of the history of climbing folklore, gets to the heart of the historic Pen y Gwryd hotel, which has now been celebrated in a new collection of stories and memories that explain why the building has become a “place of pilgrimage for mountaineers the world over”.
Jan Morris, who was the only newspaper correspondent embedded with the 1953 Everest expedition, describes the hotel as “one of the great climbers’ inns of Europe”.
Among the items on display there is the length of rope which connected Hillary and Tenzing Norgay as they disappeared into the mist at the roof of the earth, making their ascent on Everest’s summit.
The rope was essential and functional then; it has since developed significance as a symbol of humankind’s endeavour. It must appear in the dreams of many of those pilgrims and adventurers who are drawn to the Pen y Gwyrd.
‘The Pen y Gwryd Hotel: Tales from the Smoke Room’ is a 259-page hardback book which has been compiled and edited by Rob Goodfellow, Jonathan Copeland and Peter O’Neill. It is priced £14.99 and is published by Gomer Press http://www.gomer.co.uk