On 29th of May 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and a Nepalese Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, became the first climbers to conquer Mount Everest, the highest place on earth.
They reached the top of the world at 1130 local time after a gruelling climb up the southern face. "A symmetrical, beautiful snow cone summit" (Edmund Hillary).
The two men hugged each other with relief and joy but only stayed on the summit for 15 minutes because they were low on oxygen. Hillary took several photographs of the scenery and of Sherpa Tenzing waving flags representing Britain, Nepal, the United Nations and India.
Sherpa Tenzing buried some sweets and biscuits in the snow as a Buddhist offering to the gods.
This post is a tribute to the legendary mountaineer, adventurer and philanthropist Sir Edmund Hillary on the day he reached, with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the summit of Mount Everest. Sir Edmund Hillary died on 11 January 2008, after a heart attack in Auckland City Hospital, aged 88. He was farewelled at a state funeral – an unprecedented honour for a private citizen – on 22 January.
All we love the mountains and adventure need to remember Sir Edmund words: "The explorers of the past were great men and we should honour them. But let us not forget that their spirit lives on. It is still not hard to find a man who will adventure for the sake of a dream or one who will search, for the pleasure of searching, not for what he may find".
In a 2005 interview said: "My relationship with the mountains actually started when I was 16. Every year a group used to be taken from Auckland Grammar down to the Tangariro National Park for a skiing holiday (...) That was really the start of my enthusiasm for snow and ice and mountains in general. For a few years I skied whenever I could". He enjoyed skiing immensely, and when he was 50 years old, he decided to draw up a list of half a dozen things that he really hadn't done very well, and he was going to make efforts to improve. "One of them was skiing, and I did become a very much better skier".
Sir Edmund's greatest project was his Himalayan Trust, set up in the 1960s, to help improve the lives of the Sherpas and hill people of Nepal. Even more than Everest, this will remain a perpetual memorial to his life and achievements. From 1966 Hillary raised funds and made numerous visits to the Himalayas to build built schools, hospitals and other facilities in the mountains.
"I've had a full and rewarding life. Life's a bit like mountaineering - never look down"
(Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919-2008)