In 1953 the first ascent of Everest was accomplished by a British expedition which had strong links to Wales. The expedition spent time training for this historic climb at Snowdon mountain in North Wales. The centre of activities was the Pen Y Grwyd hotel (PYG) that sits at the foot of the Snowdon.
Today the ownership of the hotel is with the same family.
Rupert Pulee, the present owner who is now 37 had not been born in 1953 but his grandfather Robert Briggs run the hotel. He took care of his illustrious guests Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay the first mountaineers to make it the top of the world.
Rupert Pulee met Sir Edmund Hillary in the ‘90s as the expedition celebrated every five years a reunion at the hotel.
Asked about Hillary, Pulee says:” He was a big large guy, very unassuming. Fame did not rest well with him; he was low key.”
Pulee does not have information on which rooms in his hotel Hillary and Tensing occupied but
the hotel keeps the mugs where every evening the climbers used to drink a pint of bitter. The mugs are all initialled by the original climbers.
“The routine 60 years ago every night was dinner at 7.30pm followed by drinks at the bar. We have kept that tradition untouched.” says Pulee.
Jan Morris, the only expedition survivor, wrote a year ago in the Financial Times: “The spirits of the 1953 climbers still haunt PYG and as I wander through the corridors their faces still look down at me from their pictures in the walls.”
By Andres Bande