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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 May, 2003, 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK
Lost boot of first Everest conqueror
By Chirag Trivedi
BBC News Online, London

Sir Edmund Hillary's shoe
Was this boot made for Sir Edmund Hillary?
A cobbler is hoping that Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to conquer Everest, will visit his shop to solve a mystery.

Peter Schweiger, 57, who owns James Taylor & Sons shoe shop in central London, believes he has a boot that Sir Edmund ordered for the 1953 expedition.

Sir Edmund had commissioned shoe maker Robert Laurie, an explorer himself who has a glacier named after him in the Antarctic, to make the boots to help him scale the world's tallest mountain.

Mr Laurie, also a good friend of Peter Schweiger, had them made at a cost of about five guineas - the average weekly wage in 1953. To get similar mountain boots made to order today would cost about 1,400.

But one of the boots was lost when they were posted to Sir Edmund.

When Sir Edmund comes to England I would like him to come to my shop and put his foot in it - to see if it fits
Peter Schweiger

A replacement was made and many months later the original was recovered from the Post Office.

Mr Schweiger took ownership of the boot when Mr Laurie's workshop closed in the 1980s.

"Robert had proudly told me how he had made the boots to measure for Sir Edmund," Mr Schweiger said.

"But when the shops closed the people there said they thought it might be the one Sir Edmund had ordered.

"It's only a theory and I would like to see it put into practice.

Everest's summit
Everest is 8,848 metres high

"So When Sir Edmund comes to England I would like him to come to my shop and put his foot in it - to see if it fits!

"I often wonder where the original boots that climbed the mountain are and if they are in the same condition."

Sir Edmund, now 83, has travelled to London from his native New Zealand to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the conquering of Everest.

He and Nepalese sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first men to reach the 29,035 ft peak at 1130 GMT on 29 May, 1953.

Mr Schweiger said the boots were made to take a battering.

The James Taylor Shoe Shop
The shoe is at the James Taylor Shoe Shop

"The boot's dark brown, really chunky and it weighs just under one kilo (2.2 lbs).

"It's got a double-layered, triple-leather sole, a Norwegian welted upper and a bellowed tongue.

"The sole is double sewn by hand making it immensely strong and rigid so he could use it for climbing on small crevices and ledges.

"It is certainly is a thing that has been made to stand a lot of punishment."

About 1,200 people have scaled the mountain since 1953, with about 900 still alive today.

It is thought 120 people have died on the slopes of Everest.



1953 file photo of Edmund Hillary Hillary lament
The mountain's first conqueror criticises those who buy their way to the summit

Everest collection
A history in pictures






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