Sir Edmund Hillary one of New Zealands greatest adventurers has died at age 88

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Sir Edmund Hillary one of New Zealands greatest adventurers has died at age 88

Hillary was an amazing persron not only because he was the first person to summit Everest, but for his humanitarian actions in building schools and hospitals for the people in Nepal.

He's so famous he was the only non royal living person to be on a currency note.

The tall, gangly beekeeper seized world headlines when he and Tensing Norgay, on May 29, 1953, became the first to scale the summit of Mount Everest.

He was 88 when he died.

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 environment of 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.

Born in Auckland on July 20, 1919, he started his working life as a beekeeper.

During World War II he served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, spending much of his time at the Laucala Bay base in Fiji.

Back in New Zealand he began climbing in South Island's Kaikoura Ranges and the Southern Alps. Three Himalayan expeditions followed and in 1953 Sir Ed, then 33, was selected to join John Hunt's British Expedition to take on Everest.

Sir Ed was renowned for his fitness. His lung capacity was measured at seven litres as compared to five litres for an average man.

On Everest the first assault team that tried to reach the summit was driven back by altitude sickness. Sir Ed and Tensing were next.

Hunt wrote later of watching Sir Ed and Tensing return:
... Quote:
[As] they came into view, I could see they were dragging their feet and looking down in the dumps. My heart sank. Suddenly, at 20 metres, they began to show signs of animation.... Ed Hillary pointed his axe to the top.

"'We've knocked the bastard off,' he shouted, and I wept and collapsed into his arms.

For several days the news was withheld to be released the day Queen Elizabeth II was crowned.

In his first book, High Adventure, Hillary's simple style told of his feelings on the peak: "Awe, wonder, humility, pride, exaltation - these surely ought to be the confused emotions of the first men to stand on the highest peak on earth, after so many others had failed.
... Quote:
But my dominant reactions were relief and surprise. Relief because the long grind was over and the unattainable had been attained.

And surprise because it had happened to me, old Ed Hillary, the beekeeper, once the star pupil of Tuakau District School, but no great shakes at Auckland Grammar and a no-hoper at university - first to the top of Everest! I just didn't believe it.
Before Sir Ed made it out of the Himalayas, the Queen, to his embarrassment, knighted him.

Back in New Zealand he married Mary Rose, and they later had three children, Belinda, Sarah and Peter. In 1990 Peter Hillary scaled Everest and was able, in a live radio broadcast from the peak, to talk to his father here.

Sir Ed Hillary continued a life of climbing and adventure, including involvement in 1958 of a British trans-Antarctic expedition lead by Sir Vivien Fuchs. Hillary's job was to use three small tractors to lay a supply trail for Fuchs' party but in a controversial decision he raced to the pole himself and reached it before Fuchs.

In the early 1960s the Hillary family began building schools and hospitals for the Sherpas, beginning with re-roofing a monastery and research and treatment of goitre among the Sherpas. Before the Hillary schools, the Sherpas were illiterate.

By 1965 Hillary had raised funds for the building and equipping of seven schools. He also built bridges and an airstrip. His work extracted a terrible price when, in April 1975 an aircrash at Katmandu airport killed his wife and youngest daughter, Belinda, 16.

In New Zealand he played a key role in founding Volunteer Service Aboard, which sends New Zealanders to work in Third World countries.

In 1977 Hillary organised his Ocean to Sky expedition from the mouth of the Ganges to the Himalayas on small jet boats. The trip by Hillary, already extraordinarily popular in India and Nepal, assumed great religious significance on the subcontinent.

In December 1989, he married June Mulgrew, widow of fellow climber and explorer Peter Mulgrew, who had been killed in 1979 when an Air New Zealand sightseeing aircraft crashed into Mount Erebus in Antarctica.

His death removes a towering mountain from the New Zealand landscape.

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By netchicken: posted on 11-1-2008

Here is his picture on the New Zealand $5 note.

Its strange with Sir Ed gone, he was almost a part of the life of New Zealand, always in the news and always doing things.

The quotes of a humble New Zealander who ascended the world's greatest peak.

* "We knocked the bastard off" – announcing he and Tensing had reached Everest’s summit.

* "I like to think that I am a very ordinary New Zealander, not terribly bright perhaps but determined and practical in what I do" – at the 50th anniversary

* Nepalese, he said, did not ask for poverty while New Zealanders lived in affluence: "The fact that we do is a blessing, and with it comes responsibilities."

* On becoming a knight: "It was a tremendous honour, of course, but I had never really approved of titles and couldn’t really imagine myself possessing one"

* "In some ways I believe I epitomise the average New Zealander. I have modest abilities, I combine these with a good deal of determination and I rather like to succeed."

* To an Indian reporter who asked him if he knew he was seen by many as a god: "Well I know I’m not, so it doesn’t bother me."

* From Hillary’s diary, published in his ‘Nothing Venture, Nothing Win’:

"I continued on, cutting steadily and surmounting bump after bump and cornice after cornice looking eagerly for the summit. It seemed impossible to pick it and time was running out. Finally I cut around the back of an extra large hump and then on a tight rope from Tensing I climbed up a gentle snow ridge to its top. Immediately it was obvious that we had reached our objective. It was 11.30a.m. and we were on top of Everest!"

He describes the landscape below them and continues: "Tensing and I shook hands and then Tensing threw his arms around my shoulders. It was a great moment! I took off my oxygen and for ten minutes I photographed Tensing holding flags, the various ridges of Everest and the general view. I left a crucifix on top for John Hunt and Tensing made a little hole in the snow and put in it some food offerings - lollies, biscuits and chocolate. We ate Mint Cake and then put our oxygen back on. I was a little worried by the time factor so after 15 minutes on top we turned back at 11.45."

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By netchicken: posted on 11-1-2008

It is quite amazing really to see such people. I remember reading about him in school also. The sherpa too who accompanied him. The 20th century was pretty amazing for human beings as a whole, the north pole was conquered in 1909, the South pole by 1911, Everest was conquered in 1953, the Mariana Trench in 1960 and then we set off for the moon in 1969.
By IAF: posted on 12-1-2008

I saw in the paper today that he had died and was saddened. He was a hero, the stories of his accomplishment was fuel for our young imaginations.
Another one is gone.
By Thomas_Crowne: posted on 12-1-2008

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