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RIP Sir Edmund Hillary

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jan-2008 11:44

When I moved to New Zealand I was impressed with the recognition Sir Edmund Hillary received in this country.

Who, besides the Queen, would be of such a character as to figure in the national currency (the NZ$5 note)?

Today Sir Edmund Hllary is dead. Not many details yet but I am sure the story will be well known to all New Zealanders in the next few hours - if not minutes.

In my ten years here so far I've came to know more about his story, the Everest, expeditions and philantropic work.

From the Wikipedia on the Everest expedition:


The route to Everest was closed by Chinese-controlled Tibet, and Nepal only allowed one expedition per year. A Swiss expedition (in which Tenzing took part) had attempted to reach the summit in 1952, but was turned back by bad weather 800 feet (260 m) from the summit. During a 1952 trip in the Alps, Hillary discovered he and his friend George Lowe had been invited for the approved British 1953 attempt and immediately accepted.[5]

Shipton was named as leader, but was replaced by Hunt. Hillary considered pulling out, but both Hunt and Shipton talked him into remaining. Hillary was intending to climb with Lowe, but Hunt named two teams for the assault: Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans; and Hillary and Tenzing. Hillary therefore made a concerted effort to forge a working friendship with Tenzing.[5]

The Hunt expedition, like many such expeditions, was a team effort. Lowe supervised the preparation of the Lhotse Face, a huge and steep ice face, for climbing. Hillary forged a route through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall.[5]

The expedition set up base camp in March 1953. Working slowly, it set up its final camp at the South Col, 7,900 metres (25,900 ft). On May 26, Bourdillon and Evans attempted the climb, but turned back when Evans's oxygen system failed. The pair had reached the South Summit, coming within 100 metres (300 ft) of the summit.[6] Hunt then directed Hillary and Tenzing to go for the summit.

Snow and wind held up the pair at the South Col for two days. They set out on May 28 with a support trio of Lowe, Alfred Gregory and Ang Nyima. The two pitched a tent at 8,500 metres (27,900 ft) on May 28, while their support group returned down the mountain. On the following morning, Hillary discovered his boots had frozen solid outside the tent. He spent two hours warming them before he and Tenzing attempted the final ascent, wearing 30-pound packs.[5]

The crucial move of the last part of the ascent was the 40-foot (12 m) rock face later named the "Hillary Step." Hillary saw a means to wedge his way up a crack in the face between the rock wall and ice, and Tenzing followed.[7] From there, the following effort was relatively simple. They reached the summit at 11:30 am.[1] As Hillary put it, "A few more whacks of the ice axe in the firm snow, and we stood on top."[8]



When referring to this expedition to the top of the world he said: "We knocked the bastard off."

In 2003 Time publised an interview "A visit with the world's greates living explorer". Stuff has published an obituary:


Sir Ed – as all New Zealanders knew him - never forgot that he reached the summit with Tensing and he devoted the rest of his life to fundraising to improve the health, education and the environment the Sherpa people of Nepal.

When he first started that work he personally built many of the schools and hospitals in the Himalayas with his own hands.



It is a sad day.

Other related posts:
A few quiet yarns
Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012: Call for mentors
Case Study Challenge (ecentre Massey University)






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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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