Saturday, 11 January 2020

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man on Mt. Everest along with Norgay. Today is his 12th death anniversary

.Sir. Edmund Hillary. nytimes.com

telegraph.co.uk
To day is the death anniversary of  world-famous  mountaineering ace Sir Edmund Hillary  KG ONZ KBE (20 July 1919 - 11 January 2008) who, with  equally famous Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer, Tenzing Norgay,  was the first man to set his foot atop the roof of the world Mt. Everest in Nepal on May 29, 1953  - indeed a great feat at that time  when mountaineering gear/ accessories were not advanced. The risk factors were  very high way back. But to day, it is an easy affair and lots of daring women  as well climbed the tallest peak. On a single day in 2003, 118 people were reported to have made it to the top. These two daring souls Edmund and Norgay, who reached the  top of the  never  conquered Himalayan peak  then. took the world by storm;  they were the first climbers to reach the summit of Everest and return safely.
nytimes.com.
Up on the peak, they  took photos and left a crucifix for Colonel Hunt, the expedition leader. Mr. Norgay, a Buddhist, buried biscuits and chocolate as a sort of traditional  offering to the gods of Everest. Then both Hillary and Norgay ate a mint cake, strapped on their oxygen tanks and began their successful descent. A world record had been set by them in mountain climbing and in the annals of high-altitude mountaineering, they opened a new chapter. You may recall 29  years earlier, renowned English climber George Mallory (18 June  1886 – 8 or 9 June 1924) and his partner  Andrew "Sandy" Irvine met with tragedy on the high slopes  in June 1924 when they were close to the mysterious peak; last seen when they were about 800 vertical feet (245 m) from the summit. Reason for their death:  bad weather and sudden blizzard (?) . George took part in three earlier expeditions to Everest.
1953 atop Mt.Everest. Edmund Hillaryand TenzingNorgay.biography.com
 The following are some interesting facts about Sir Edmund Hillary, a much-faceted  person who lived his life full:
01.Born in Auckland, New Zealand on July 20, 1919, Edmund Hillary in his  early days,  was more interested in outdoor activities than in reading  books  and preparing for exams. Naturally endowed  with good physical endurance  that stood him in good stead, his successful climb of  Mount Olivier, a national mountain near the Southern Alps, in 1939 gave him the impetus to achieve more in this area of mountaineering.  

02. His journey to the Himalayas began from the alps. After serving  in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a navigator during World War II he  began  specializing in ice-climbing techniques from Alpinists  during which time he became close to Col. Hunt who chose him as  a member of the 1953 expedition to Everest that became a turning point in his life  and this success made him acclaim global name.

03. He was  part of the ninth British expedition to Everest, led by John Hunt. From 1985 to 1988, he served as New Zealand's High Commissioner to India and Bangladesh and concurrently as Ambassador to Nepal.

04. He began his career  as a beekeeper with his father and brother; his mother Gertrude was famous for breeding and selling queen bees. and his father edited the journal "The N.Z. Honeybee". With money earned from bee-keeping,  he underwent training in mountain climbing.

05. On January 30, 1948, Hillary  scaled New Zealand's highest peak, Aoraki / Mount Cook, under the guidance of his team.

06. Prior to his successful assault on Everest in 1953, in 1951 he was part  of a British reconnaissance expedition to Everest led by Eric Shiptonhe.  In 1952,  his  attempt on  Cho Oyu with the British team led by Shipton never materialized owing to  lack of safe route route from the Nepal side.

07. He became the honorary citizen of Nepal, a honor given to him as part of  commemoration  of the 50th anniversary of the Mount Everest climb.  He was the first ever foreign national to have this rare honor. 
George Mallory. 1886 -1924 dailymail.co.uk
08. Quite interesting is Hillary's son  Peter Hillary continued  his famous father's legacy in the realm of high-mountain climbing and in 2002,  with  Ace Sherpa Tenzing's, son Jamling  scaled Mt. Everest together.

09. After his famous ascent to Everest,  Edmund Hillary  was  a partner of  the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition  to the South Pole overland in 1958. He later  reached the North Pole as well, thus becoming the first person to reach both poles and summit Everest.

10. Hillary is credited with  successful climb of 10 more mountain peaks in the Himalayas between mid 1950s through the mid 1960s, 

11. Hillary's fate was on a strong footing and,  on a  few occasions, he faced near death situations.  Once he fortunately survived what was known as the 1960 New York air disaster (December 16). In that unexpected  mid-air collision between TWA flight (from Dayton, Ohio) and United Airlines (from Chicago)  all 128 people aboard  were dead. Providence made him stay alive to achieve more in his later life.

12. In yet another air-plane mishap,  Hillary  defied death on 28 November 1979 while on a flight to Antarctica. In the 11th hour due to pressing engagement, he cancelled the flight that   crashed into Mount Erebus killing all 257 people on board. Ten years later, Hillary  married  his friend's widow  Mulgrew who died in that plane crash.

13. Being humane with true Christian spirit of love and care, Hillary took a keen role in the welfare of the Sherpa community and formed a trust- the Sir Edmund Hillary Himalayan Trust and under it built many schools and hospitals in Nepal. Without Sherpas, it is indeed, a tough job for the climbing team to reach Everest.

14. He wrote or was a co-author of 13 books, including “No Latitude for Error” (1961, Hodder & Stoughton), about the Antarctic experience.

15. A young Queen Elizabeth II  Queen Elizabeth II (who was crowned in Westminster Abbey on June 2),  bestowed Hillary, Hunt and 37 other members of the  1953 expedition  to Everest coronation medals for their achievement.  Hillary had numerous honors conferred upon him, including the Order of the Garter in 1995.

16. The Government Zealand  honored him in 1992 by printing his image on the  five NZ dollar bill (bank currency notes) - first living citizen to have this rare honor. 

17.With approval from Sir Hillary, the Nepalese NGO Mountain Legacy was  inaugurated in 2003  "for remarkable service in the conservation of culture and nature in mountainous regions". A bronze bust of Hillary (circa 1953) by Ophelia Gordon Bell is in the Te Papa museum in Wellington, New Zealand.  In 2003, the Sir Edmund Hillary Archive was added to the UNESCO Memory of the world archive and it is currently held by Auckland War Memorial Museum.   

18. Hillary died  on January 11, 2008 (aged 88); Cause of Death: Heart failure.  Upon his death, he was given a state funeral in New Zealand headed by PM Prime Minister Helen Clark.
George Mallory quote. pinrest.
 Sir Edmund Hillary  never failed to stick to the inspiring  message of great English mountaineer George Mallory mentioned  in the above quote.  In the history of great heroic exploits, the conquest of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund and Mr. Norgay ranks with the first trek to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen in 1911 and the first solo nonstop trans-Atlantic flight by Charles A. Lindbergh in 1927.

The most  dangerous trek  to Mt. Everest is  a sheer face of rock and ice 40 feet high. It was  later named the Hillary Step. Sir Edmund called  it “the most formidable obstacle on the ridge.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Hillary
 https://www.biography.com/news/edmund-hillary-facts
 https://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/11/world/asia/11hillary.html