Saturday, 27 January 2018

Elizabeth Hawley, the Sherlock Holmes of the Himalayas died recently

In the field of journalism, a few people made a mark and remained an immortal figure because, they chose a trail not tried before. Such Mavericks never sought name and fame, rather they did something that appealed to their mind and heart. An American woman journalist's name, now has become closely associated with the Himalayan mountains and the mountaineering expeditions to the various peaks. Her name is  Elizabeth Hawley (November 9, 1923 – January 26, 2018), a well-known chronicler of Himalayan expeditions. She landed in  Nepal in September 1959 and since then had stayed there for the rest of her life till her death recently. 
Elizabeth Hawley Phys.org

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Hawley studied at  the University of Michigan. Upon graduation in 1946, she  moved over to Nepal after quitting her first job  as a researcher for Fortune magazine in New York. Back in the US on a brief assignment as a reporter, Hawley  returned to  Nepal a few years later as journalist for Time.
Elizabeth HawleyInternational Mountain Guides
Her journalistic work  for Reuter was confined to covering mountaineering news, including the 1963 American expedition that was the first from the United States to  Mount Everest. Her flair for minute details of summits and tragedies on the Himalayan mountain stood her in good-stead and got her the nick name "The Sherlock Holmes of the Mountaineering World".
Through hard work  over the years, she built a  name as one of the most outstanding and authoritative voices on Himalayan mountaineering ever since her move to this mountain Kingdom.

The Himalayan Database, an elaborate  meticulous archive of all summits  in Nepal's mountains that she managed until  a few years ago, is a great pioneering achievement for a highly spirited American woman  and it is a  useful data center for the prospective mountain expeditions to Mt. Everest and other peaks. It is natural she became the best-known chronicler of Himalayan expeditions for over four decades, and was respected by the international mountaineering community.  Her  complete and accurate records,  despite their unofficial status, summarized in a database  are used in several analyses of success and death rates for climbers in the Nepal Himalayas.

Ms. Hawley was known to extract  the truth from climbers on their ascents and decent. Her word on the records was  accepted as final.  As a mark of respect and honor to her mammoth work of establishing a database, the French ice climber François Damilano  named a peak in Nepal after Elizabeth Hawley. He did not stop at it, he went ahead  made a solo first ascent on Peak Hawley (6,182 meters) in the Dhaulagiri Group on 9 May 2008. In 2014, Nepal Government  officially named it in her honour.  Peak Hawley is in the country's northwest.

During the climbing season, one would see Hawley driving her 1965 sky-blue VW Bug on the streets of Kathmandu tailing after mountaineers before and after their expeditions to the mountain peaks. No expeditions can escape her Hawk-like curious eyes, looking for genuine details. They would be subject to a session or two of gruelling questions on par with those of the FBI of the USA or the Scotland Yard. Her aim was to get down to the truth nothing but truth regarding their activities on the mysterious mountains. Her records are authentic as the details were directly gathered from the climbers themselves. In this regard, she was very much focused on details  of the expedition. "I guess I am quite forceful, I come to the point and if someone thinks they can evade my questions, they can think again,"Ms. Hawley  told AFP in a 2014 interview.

In her scoop gathering spree on the expedition to the tallest peaks in the world,  the American military attache  was of great help to her. He offered her access to secret radio communication between Everest base camp and the embassy, enabling her to be the first to file when they reached the summit.

Hawley, who herself never climbed the mountain peaks  died in a Kathmandu Hospital in the early hours  on Friday (Jan 26) aged 94. Prior her death she had been seriously ill for about a week or so due to lung infection and later stroke  "She had a very peaceful death," Dr Prativa Pandey, who looked after Hawley at the end of her life, told AFP. "I retire when I die. It might be the same thing," Hawley mentioned  in her book 'ThePhys.org Nepal Scene', a collection of monthly dispatches she wrote until 2007. If the Himalayan peaks were humans, their eyes would be  wet with tears over the loss of  this highly motivated woman whose hallmarks were hardwork, honesty and authenticity.  

Ref:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/-sherlock-holmes--of-nepal-s-himalayas-dies-at-94-9899052


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Hawley
Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/-sherlock-holmes--of-nepal-s-himalayas-dies-at-94-9899052