These days, it’s hard to get much notice for climbing Mount Everest. In 1953, when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made it to the top, it was a first, and it came after decades of failure. But 60 years later, more than 5,100 people have climbed Everest, and more than 75 percent of them have been since 2000. So many people have climbed Everest that there’s now a littering problem because of people leaving oxygen tanks, old tents, and human excrement behind. Thirteen tons of garbage have been cleaned off the mountain since 2008 by an expedition that goes up every year specifically for that purpose.
Yes, the romance of climbing Everest has become a little tarnished, yet the story of Rupee, who just became the first dog to climb Everest, is inspiring nonetheless. He didn’t do it alone, naturally — he accompanied his owner, Joanne Lefson, on her climb, but Lefson says that he often took the lead.
Rupee traveled a lot farther to get to the top of Everest than most climbers. Lefson found Rupee last year in an Indian dump, starving and almost dead.
“When I saw him on that dumpsite he couldn’t have had more than an hour to live,” she told the Daily Mail. “He couldn’t even walk 10 meters without collapsing. The little fellow had heart, I could tell that but he was very weak from having no food and water for days, perhaps weeks.”
She had originally planned to take her other dog, Oscar, to Everest. Oscar became famous for globetrotting with Lefson and visiting landmarks all over the world. Sadly, Oscar’s travels came to an abrupt end in January when he was struck by a truck and killed. Lefson says that the trip with Rupee up the mountain was part of remembering Oscar: “It was just a wonderful, spiritual, amazing experience and, obviously, in Oscar’s honor.”