Adventurer, Explorer, Philanthropist, and Diplomat
At his 85th birthday Sir Edmund Hillary summed his life up:
"What a fortunate person I have been!"
He smiles from the New Zealand $5 note since 1990. Only four New Zealand portraits are printed on a bank note and his was the only one while he was still alive.
Looking through the biographies, his life was filled with adventures, exploration, and humanitarian work. Gaining world fame through his exploits the step into publicity was a natural development. Where he travelled giving international lectures, wrote bestsellers, and took part in documentaries on television. Probably the most important component was his humanitarian work in the Himalayas, Nepal, for the Sherpa people.
Auckland City on the 20th of July 1919 was the day Edmund Percival Hillary was born to Getrude and Percival Hillary. In 1920 the family moved to Tuakau south of Auckland where his father trained to become a beekeeper for honey New Zealand.
After leaving the local Primary School Edmund travelled each day to Mt. Albert Grammar School until the family moved to Auckland when he was sixteen. It was the same year he went on a school outing to Mt. Ruapehu. The encounter awoke his mountaineering dream. Born and brought up in Auckland, seeing snow for the first time marvelled him.
During the time he attended the Auckland University he realised going tramping lie closer to his heart. Thus he followed his father’s footsteps and became a beekeeper. Meanwhile he always continued climbing mountains in New Zealand, especially in the Southern Alps. Improving continuously he increased hight and difficulties while climbing mountains in Switzerland and the Himalayas.
In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary was prepared to conquer his biggest challenge yet, the highest mountain in the world. Mt. Everest is located between Nepal and Tibet. Already many expeditions had failed to reach the summit. One unlucky person even perished in the attempt, and climber had been forced to turn back.
Having been part of the "Everest Reconnaissance Expedition" in 1952 gained the attention of Sir John Hunt who led the following year in 1953 a British sponsored Everest Expedition. In May two groups were geared up to attempt the ascent. The second pair had to stay behind because of equipment failure. Leaving Edmund and a native Nepalese climber to set off for the "roof of the world". At 11:30 in the morning, on May 29th 1953. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the highest point on earth, 29,028ft above sea level. The climb down to their camp became treacherous by snow covering their traces.
Their achievement was honoured by the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II in June.
In September of the same year Edmund married his wife Louise Rose. Together they had two daughters and one son.
World famous new ventures came his way and let him explore the Antarctic. His adventures turned him into a publisher of several bestsellers including High Adventure, East of Everest, The Crossing of Antarctica, and No Latitude for Error.
The 60ties Hillary spent travelling, lecturing, raising funds for projects to support the region in Nepal he loved, and expeditions here and there. 1975 left him devastated. His wife and youngest daughter died in a plane crash at take off in Kathmandu. Busying himself with environmental issues particularly in Nepal he surmounted his grief.
June, widow of Peter Mulgrew who was a close friend to Edmund, accompanied him in the 80ties to take on the position as New Zealand’s High Commissioner in New Dehli. He even found time to join Neil Armstrong on an adventure to the North Pole. Returning from his diplomatic positioning 1988 to New Zealand he married June.
Adventures and honours follow a strikingly active man all his life and survive him in numerous biographies. Sir Edmund Hillary passed away on the 11th of January 2008, in his Auckland home, aged 88. He was mourned by thousands of people from around the world.
Guest Author: Mariam Cisse webmaster of Easy Healthy Recipes for Kids.com
Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre
Otara by Manukau
A four day, three night, 70 kilometres long tramp connecting trails throughout the Waitakere Ranges.
Centre at the Hermitage on Mt. Cook