Edmund Hillary, first atop Everest, dies (AP)

Edmund Hillary, first atop Everest, dies     (AP)
January 10th, 2008  

Topic: Sir Edmund Hillary dies

Edmund Hillary, first atop Everest, dies     (AP)
Sir Edmund Hillary dies
Fairfax Media | Friday, 11 January 2008
JOHN SELKIRK/Dominion Post

BREAKING NEWS: Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that the passing of Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand's greatest hero, is a profound loss to New Zealand.

"My thoughts are with Lady Hillary, Sir Edmund's children, wider family, and close friends at this sad time," she said in a statement.

"Sir Ed described himself as an average New Zealander with modest abilities. In reality, he was a colossus. He was an heroic figure who not only ‘knocked off' Everest but lived a life of determination, humility, and generosity.

"The legendary mountaineer, adventurer, and philanthropist is the best-known New Zealander ever to have lived. But most of all he was a quintessential Kiwi. He was ours - from his craggy appearance and laconic style to his directness and honesty. All New Zealanders will deeply mourn his passing.

"Sir Ed's 1953 ascent of Mt Everest brought him world-wide fame. Thereafter he set out to support development for the Sherpa people of the Himalayas. His lifetime's humanitarian work there is of huge significance and lasting benefit.

"Sir Ed was not one to bask idly in celebrity. He drew on his international prestige to highlight issues and values which he held dear. His enduring commitment to and respect for the Sherpa people reflects the best of what we as New Zealanders can contribute, from our small developed nation helping another less privileged one.

"Sir Edmund established the Himalayan Trust in the early 1960s and worked tirelessly until his death to raise funds and build schools and hospitals in the mountains.

"The legacy of Sir Edmund Hillary will live on. His exploits continue to inspire new generations of New Zealanders, as they have for more than half a century already," Helen Clark said.
January 11th, 2008  
News Manager

Topic: Edmund Hillary, first atop Everest, dies (AP)

AP - Sir Edmund Hillary, the unassuming beekeeper who conquered Mount Everest to win renown as one of the 20th century's greatest adventurers, has died, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced Friday. He was 88.

January 11th, 2008  
Team Infidel
Edmund Hillary, first atop Everest, dies     (AP)
January 11th, 2008  

Hillary took his fame in stride and considered himself just an ordinary beekeeper.

Throughout his life Hillary remembered his first mountain he climbed, the 9,645-foot Mount Tapuaenuku -- "Tappy" as he called it -- in Marlborough on New Zealand's South Island. He scaled it solo over three days in 1944, while in training camp with the Royal New Zealand Air Force during World War II. "Tapuaenuku" in Maori means "footsteps of the Rainbow God".
"I'd climbed a decent mountain at last," he said later.
excerpts from CNN's excellent article on sir Ed....more here;


1st in many things, and an uncompromising personality

he will be missed, as there are no more like him

it really is hard to describe the hole he will leave in NZ's culture, he's even on our money

January 11th, 2008  
New Zealand's sadness at news Ed Hillary had gone was quickly shared with millions around the world.
CNN video tribute

The BBC broke into its programming to announce the news while CNN quickly had a long and moving piece, clearly prepared ahead of time.
World news websites were quickly dominated by the story.
CNN ran a big banner announcing the news across the top of its home page – indicative of the enormous standing Ed had in the United States.
The India and Nepal news website Sify.com was quickly running an Associated Press story.
The London Times leads with the story: "Sir Edmund Hillary, the unassuming beekeeper who was catapulted into the history books when he became the first man to climb Everest, died last night at the age of 88".
The Guardian quickly had local reaction with British adventurer and environmentalist Pen Hadow say Hillary's death "closes one of the great chapters of planetary exploration".
"He was physically and metaphorically at the pinnacle of high adventure," said Hadow.
Because of Hillary's conquest of Everest "millions of people will know him and will and will be affected in some way by his passing".
The Sydney Morning Herald included one of Ed's quotes, summing up his life: "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."
January 11th, 2008  
Flag flies at half-mast over a sad Scott Base

| Friday, 11 January 2008

ED'S LANDSCAPE: Scott Base staff gather around the flagpole for a tribute to Sir Ed by Dean Peterson.

The New Zealand flag is flying at half-mast at Scott Base in Antarctica and there is a "very subdued" atmosphere on the base Sir Edmund Hillary started 51 years ago.
Antarctica New Zealand chief executive Lou Sanson, who learned of Sir Edmund's death at around 10am today, said it was a sad day for New Zealand and everyone at Scott Base was affected.
Sir Edmund went to Antarctica last year for the 50th anniversary of Scott Base.
At the time, Prime Minister Helen Clark invited him to go back to the ice this summer to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sir Edmund's arrival at the South Pole.
But Mr Sanson today said that about six months ago Sir Edmund had telephoned him to say he wouldn't make it.
"He said he just couldn't do it. He just didn't feel he had the energy to do it."
It was just "so sad" that his death had come barely days after the 50th anniversary of him reaching the South Pole.
Sir Edmund had famously beat Sir Vivian "Bunny" Fuchs to the South Pole, after leading the support team that was laying fuel and food for Fuchs' overland crossing of Antarctica.
Mr Sanson said he saw Sir Edmund shortly before Christmas "and I could see that he had certainly aged" since the trip last year.
Mr Sanson had shown Sir Edmund photographs of the lounge area at Scott Base where ice axes and primus stoves he had signed had been placed.
"What was neat about his visit at Scott Base was that every day he seemed to get younger and he just seemed to be energised by just being at Scott Base and the night in the A-frame (hut), and just totally loving the experience.
"We're just going to sorely miss a guy who was just a pillar of New Zealand's national identify in Antarctica.
"It's a sad day for New Zealand and it was just such a privilege to be able to share that 50th anniversary with him and I know what it meant to him to be there for that."
A special memory was that after the prime minister's contingent had left Scott Base last January, Sir Edmund stayed on a few days. An Air Force Orion had arrived and Sir Edmund, who had been in number five squadron in the Air Force, spent his last night in the bar sharing stories with the pilots until his doctor told him it was bedtime.
"I think he does epitomise that sense of adventure for New Zealanders," Mr Sanson said.
"He was such a pillar of the whole New Zealand Antarctica programme and everything we represent down there.
"He's going to be sadly missed.
"We've got the flag flying at half-mast at Scott Base now. . . and there's a very subdued atmosphere at Scott Base today."
Mr Sanson said a memorial to Sir Edmund would be made at the A-frame hut, which Sir Edmund had so enjoyed staying in on his last two visits to the ice.
January 11th, 2008  

Topic: Obituary: a Kiwi colossus

LIFE OF ACHIEVEMENTS: After conquering Everest, Sir Ed devoted the rest of his life to fundraising to improve the health, education and environment of the Sherpa people of Nepal.

New Zealand's greatest hero, Sir Edmund Hillary, is dead.
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: "[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.
Sir Ed maintained he and Tensing – who died in 1986 - reached the summit together, but he was over the years repeatedly asked who got there first. He never said directly, but much later Tensing, known as the "Tiger of the Snows", said Hillary led the couple on to the summit.
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.
"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 Louise 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.
This allowed New Zealand to repair its savaged diplomatic relations with India after Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon had several angry exchanges with then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi which saw Wellington close its high commission in New Delhi.
In October 1984 new Prime Minister David Lange named Hillary high commissioner to India.
When he returned to settle in New Zealand, Hillary continued fundraising, and became a special ambassador for UNICEF to promote Nepalese aid.
He was also outspoken about the environmental damage in the Himalayas, calling for the Nepalese to close Everest to climbers for several years.
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.
Hillary was a simple, tolerant man who, in 1992, said he found Buddhism an appealing, open religion which he tended to prefer over his Anglican upbringing.
He said he wondered whether there was a god.
"I have the vague feeling ... that the world is so complex and so remarkable in many ways that there must be some sort of intelligence behind it all but as to whether that intelligence is the slightest bit interested in a little person away down on earth, I have my considerable doubts."
His death removes a towering mountain from the New Zealand landscape.
January 11th, 2008  
Tears flowed in Nepal as locals mourned the death of a "kind-hearted gentleman".
Nepali Sherpas lit butter lamps and offered special Buddhist prayers in monasteries for the mountaineer, calling him a great philanthropist and friend of Nepal.
Nepal Mountaineering Association vice-president Bhumi Lal Lama had only just learned of the news when he spoke to The Dominion Post from Kathmandu, but said it was a privilege to have met him.
"I consider the time I spent with Sir Edmund to be very precious. What he has done for us will never be forgotten. He was a kind-hearted gentleman and will be greatly missed.
"I have never met such a kind, humble man. He may have passed, but he is our friend forever."
Mr Lal Lama said many sherpas had been crying their hearts out.
"I can't explain how we feel about him. He has made such a difference to many, many lives. The sherpas now want to find a way of honouring him in their own way."
Ang Rita Sherpa, 60, an old friend who has worked for 23 years with Sir Ed and his Himalayan Trust, said: "I lit butter lamps and offered prayers for his reincarnation as a human being.
"He has done so much for us. If he is incarnated he can again continue to do good work for the human beings," said Ang Rita, a devout Buddhist.
Sir Ed spent decades working to improve Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which helped build hospitals, clinics, bridges, airstrips and nearly 30 schools. He was made an honorary Nepalese citizen in 2003.
He was instrumental in opening Sagarmatha National Park to preserve mountain environments in the Everest region.
"It is very important for the people on the mountain to treat the mountain with considerable respect," he said on his last visit to Nepal last year.
January 11th, 2008  
Details of the state funeral for Sir Edmund Hillary may not be known for several days.
Hillary: A life in pictures

• Tenzing's grandson speaks of 'Uncle Hillary'
• Mountain man leaves huge legacy
Your say: Edmund Hillary's passing
How Hillary came to stand on top of the world
• Nepalese honour 'our friend forever'
Email us your tributes to Sir Edmund Hillary and reaction to his passing. Click here to send us your feedback Sir Ed, who became New Zealand's most celebrated hero when he was the first man to climb Mt Everest in 1953, died in Auckland around 9am yesterday from a heart attack which followed a long period of ill health.
The Government has offered and Sir Ed's family has accepted a State funeral.
While some pre-planning by police and Government around a possible state funeral has taken place Prime Minister Helen Clark said the wishes of the Hillary family would be paramount in determining how Sir Edmund is to be farewelled.
Miss Clark told Radio New Zealand discussions about the exact nature of the funeral would be held over the weekend.
"My desire at all times has been to see Sir Ed's, Lady Hillary and the family's wishes respected. What they want is what will happen."
Auckland mayor John Banks says Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell, which can accommodate more than 1000 people, may be the venue.
In Sir Edmund Hillary's 88 years, he conquered the world's highest mountain, stood on both poles, built schools and hospitals for impoverished Nepalese, faced the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter, and endured 54 years of international fame.
The lanky, industrious beekeeper-turned-adventurer, who earned his place in history as the first person to stand on the top of the world, created a legacy which New Zealanders celebrated yesterday while absorbing the news that the hero on the $5 note was dead.
The Queen is said to be "very saddened" by Sir Ed's death.
Buckingham Palace said the Queen was sending a personal message of sympathy to his widow and family.
New Zealanders - leaders, luminaries and the everyday Kiwis Sir Ed claimed to represent and embody - have paid tribute to the man Prime Minister Helen Clark called the most famous New Zealander to have lived.
They all said the same thing in different ways: that Sir Ed's place as this country's mountain-conquering trailblazer, an inspiration to generations of schoolchildren, would never be replicated.
"Sir Ed described himself as an average New Zealander with modest abilities. In reality, he was a colossus," Miss Clark said.
Many Kiwis, such as William Ronaldson, wrote yesterday on news websites of their personal encounters with Sir Ed.
"I remember when I was about nine years old I did a school project on him and wrote him a letter. He replied with a hand-written three- page letter which I still have."
As a boy, the young Edmund Percival Hillary travelled by train for four hours a day to attend Auckland Grammar School, reading books about adventurers on the way.
He would become a beekeeper in the family business, but his athleticism and determination would lead him to a life of extraordinary yet humble achievement.
He once wrote: "I discovered that even the mediocre can have adventures and even the fearful can achieve. I had the world beneath my clumsy boots."
He and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay conquered the highest mountain in the world on May 29, 1953. Sir Ed was 33 at the time and about to become world famous.
In January 1958, Sir Ed reached the South Pole driving a modified Ferguson tractor, in the first party to reach the pole by land since 1912.
In 1964, Sir Ed established the Himalayan Trust through which he worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the Nepalese people, who knew him as Burra Sahib, which means Big In Heart.
Tragically, his first wife, Louise, and younger daughter, Belinda, 16, were killed in an air crash in Nepal while visiting Sir Ed in 1975.
Sir Ed's last great adventure was a return to Antarctica last year, aged 87, for the 50th anniversary of Scott Base.
Yesterday, flags flew at half-mast on The Ice.
Even when he wasn't actively making history, Sir Ed's life collided with the story of this nation.
His life story wove around defining moments in New Zealand history, from his service as an air force navigator in World War II, to the loss of his friend Peter Mulgrew in the Erebus disaster in 1979, and his appointment as New Zealand high commissioner to India, where he continued his work to improve relations with the subcontinent after former prime minister Robert Muldoon's stoush with his Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi.
Later in life, Sir Ed married Mulgrew's widow, June.
The manner in which Sir Ed's various adventures were documented over the years illustrated one of the ways the world changed throughout his long life.
Sir Ed's return to base camp from his Everest ascent in 1953 was famously captured on grainy black and white film and news of it was withheld for four days so the announcement could coincide with the coronation of the Queen on June 2 of that year. Sir Ed was knighted on June 6.
Fifty-four years later, international websites flashed banner headlines and the Western world's largest news organisations broke into their scheduled programming to send news of his death globally. Internet users worldwide left tributes to him online.
Sir Ed spoke about death and a potential final resting place in his 1999 memoir View from the Summit.
If Sir Ed's musings bear out, his ashes will come to rest in Auckland, where he was born in 1919, and near the small rural community of Tuakau where the early years of his extraordinary life were passed.
"I've never had any desire to end my days at the bottom of a deep crevasse - I've been down too many of them for that to have much appeal: I'm a somewhat fearful person and would prefer to go peacefully if that were possible.
"I should even like my ashes to be spread on the beautiful waters of Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, to be washed gently ashore maybe on the many pleasant beaches near the place where I was born. Then the full circle of my life will be complete."
Sir Edmund Hillary is survived by his wife, June, and children Peter and Sarah.
January 21st, 2008  

FAREWELL: Sir Edmund Hillary's funeral casket being taken from Holy Trinity Cathedral to St Marys Church, Parnell.
LATEST - 9.10am: After a slow and dignified march, the casket containing the body of Sir Edmund Hillary is now at the altar of St Mary's Church.
View video

• Audio slideshow
• Order of service
• Clark to lead eulogies
• A tale of two cities
• Remembering Sir Ed
His state funeral takes place later today.
The casket had been lying in state in the adjourning Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral where thousands of people over the last 24 hours have paid their respects.
Just after 8.30am the Cathedral was closed ahead of the moving of the casket.
The ice axe and carved walking stick as well as Sir Edmund's medals and honours were paraded out.
Then eight senior military non-commissioned officers - four from the Navy, two from the Army and two from the Air Force - lifted the casket onto their shoulders. A navy drummer beat out a slow step on his muffled drum as they carried the casket out of the cathedral, around the side and into the much smaller St Mary's.
The kauri-panelled church gleamed in the weak early morning sun.
Yesterday's heavy rain has given way to a cloudy, solemn day.
Among those watching was writer Jan Morris who had been with Sir Edmund on Everest and broke the news to the world of success in 1953.
She said that at one point she wondered if Sir Ed would succumb to the lure of celebrity.
"But he was stronger than that; he was too basically good."
Thousands of people paid their respects yesterday and overnight.
They wore jandals, homespun jerseys, Bananas in Pyjamas raincoats and pinstripe suits, as Kiwis young and old queued patiently in the rain and muggy weather to celebrate a life lived in pursuit of adventure.
Children stood alongside adventurers, backpackers and lunching businessmen at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell where Sir Edmund Hillary lay in state in the leadup to today's funeral.
While today family members, friends, foreign dignitaries and politicians take centre-stage, yesterday was for the people.
Palmerston North teacher Margaret Whyte arrived at 9am and was the first person in the public queue, braving the relentless rain and wind. As a teacher of five-year-olds, she said she knew the inspirational effect his story had on youngsters. "He was just a wonderful person."
Retired Welsh couple Daniel and Jacky O'Connell popped across the road from their bed and breakfast to pay their respects.
Mr O'Connell said he remembered sitting in a cinema to watch the Queen's coronation and hearing that Sir Ed had conquered Everest. "I always thought he was British - they made such a thing of it."
Hillary family friend Tom Scott said he watched for several hours yesterday as the public filed into the church and "found myself getting incredibly tearful".
Mourners had watched the hearse carrying Sir Ed's casket arrive at the cathedral at 10am yesterday, welcomed by local iwi Ngati Whatua.
It was then carried into the cavernous nave of the cathedral by eight New Zealand Defence Force staff marching in perfect unison. A single drummer tapped out a slow beat as hundreds looked on in silence.
In opening the state funeral for Sir Ed, the Very Rev Ross Bay thanked Lady Hillary and family for "allowing us and the nation to share him with you".
Nepalese friends, from the land where Sir Ed found fame 55 years ago, filed in behind the family, fingertips touching, heads bowed. Wreaths were laid by Governor-General Anand Satyanand, on behalf of the Queen, whose coronation coincided with Sir Ed's ascent of Everest in 1953, Prime Minister Helen Clark and leaders of other political parties.
As dignitaries filed out of the nave, family members gathered around the coffin, seeing the medals laid out at Sir Ed's feet, the ice axe that forged his path to the tip of Everest, a tukutuku ceremonial cane on the coffin near where khata - Nepalese blessing scarves - had been placed, and candles under a portrait of Sir Ed.
Miss Clark was visibly grieving the loss of a man she had grown up hearing about. "We lost our greatest hero, simple as that."

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