January 10, 2008

RIP Sir Edmund Hillary: "...he parlayed the makings of an ordinary life into a truly extraordinary one - and showed us in the process that greatness is possible for anyone."

posted by curlyelk to other at 09:50 PM - 15 comments


posted by owlhouse at 03:39 AM on January 11


posted by Sprdave32 at 06:00 AM on January 11


posted by tommytrump at 07:13 AM on January 11

In another AP story about his death, I found this and I think it sums up Sir Edmund: "Before Norgay's death in 1986, Hillary consistently refused to confirm he was first, saying he and the Sherpa had climbed as a team to the top. It was a measure of his personal modesty, and of his commitment to his colleagues." How many of us would be this generous and not brag about being the first. RIP Sir Edmund.

posted by lil'red at 08:34 AM on January 11

Interesting the part at the end of the story about how appalled he had become at what a tourist attraction Everest had become (when he returned there in 2003). That says a lot about natural areas in general in the world today. He was a remarkable adventurer, and the fact he scaled Everest way back in the early '50s, prior to so much modern technology and equipment, is fascinating. Rest in peace.

posted by dyams at 09:26 AM on January 11

I have to agree with what he said about it being a tourist attraction. I was watching something about everest on the discovery channel and it looks like an organized tour. there is already a rope to the top for climbers to hook on to and follow and camps set up all over the place. All these guys on oxygen and crazy equipment. Now i see that alot of people still die their yearly but most of them should not have been there in the first palce. Hillary did this old school. He had no advanced technology, oxygen, or weather channel. He we the first and he should never be forgotten. What he did is on a different level then all those who climb it today....... HE WAS THE MAN

posted by Debo270 at 10:15 AM on January 11

"Well, we've knocked the bastard off." (Sir Edmund Hillary upon completion of the climb) This was a seemingly ordinary man who did an extraordinary thing, thereby revealing the extraordinary man within. I was 12 when he and Norgay made the climb. Even in those days of somewhat slower communications, news of the feat made its way around the world in no time. Interest in it was huge, and the Movietone News films of the subsequent interviews and bestowing of the knighthood were in every theater. May he rest in peace.

posted by Howard_T at 10:50 AM on January 11

Debo270, just to clarify, he did climb it old school but he did use oxygen: "I removed my oxygen mask to take some pictures. It wasn't enough just to get to the top. We had to get back with the evidence. Fifteen minutes later we began the descent." I believe it usually only the Sherpas that do not use oxygen, although I do believe someone else has done it without - but I could be wrong.

posted by lil'red at 11:00 AM on January 11

Yes. It's been done without supplemental oxygen

posted by kokaku at 12:30 PM on January 11

Good link kokaku. Reinhold Meissner and Peter Habeler were the first to do it from Base Camp to summit without oxygen. Meissner later was the first to do it solo (also without oxygen). A few years ago I went to a lecture by Meissner, who is a peculiarly single minded person, but one has to admire his courage and purpose. He certainly appeared to have less regard for his fellow climbers, including his partner. I have also been to a talk by Edmund Hillary (for the Hillary Foundation). He was a much more rounded character, who you felt had tremendous compassion for others. His subsequent work, and that of the foundation, with poor villagers in Nepal demonstrates that. I also love the fact that he always listed his profession as 'apiarist'. To those who think climbing Everest is easy, the recent spate of fatalities shows that it isn't. Meissner said that on 9 out of 10 days, it is impossible to stand upright on the summit ridge, let alone climb. The 'mass' summitting that you see these days is most likely when there is a clear day or two to allow that to happen. Better weather information and forecasting also help, something that the earlier climbers didn't have.

posted by owlhouse at 03:28 PM on January 11

A few years ago I went to a lecture by Meissner, who is a peculiarly single minded person . . . He certainly appeared to have less regard for his fellow climbers, including his partner. Is it strange that a little bit of autism can lead to such achievement? It's like this weird bit of evolution we're going through in the first world.

posted by yerfatma at 03:37 PM on January 11

How many of us would be this generous and not brag about being the first. Not only that, but you know all the photos from the peak? That's not Sir Ed. He took photos of Norgay, but couldn't be bothered getting ones of himself.

posted by rodgerd at 03:20 PM on January 12


posted by BoKnows at 03:59 PM on January 12

Extraordinary man indeed. May he rest in peace.

posted by BoriQa at 11:03 AM on January 13


posted by squealy at 05:03 PM on January 13

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