I think Adventurers, Explorers, Endurance fans and Long distance people in general will be sadened by this news.
EVEREST conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary has died at the age of 88.
He died of a heart attack in an Auckland hospital about 9am (7am AEDT) today
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced the news today, saying the death of New Zealand’s greatest hero was a profound loss.
“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,” Miss Clark said.
Sir Ed’s health had been in decline since April when he suffered a fall while in Nepal.
Sir Ed was the first man to climb Everest with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
They never repeated the feat and in an interview with Reuters in early 2007, Sir Ed said the pair had discussed the possibility of climbing Everest again, but he felt there was little virtue in climbing it many times.
Sir Ed is survived by his wife Lady June Hillary and two children Peter and Sarah.
Miss Clark said the legendary mountaineer, adventurer, and philanthropist would be deeply mourned.
His Everest ascent brought him worldwide fame which he used to support development for the Sherpa people of the Himalayas.
“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,” Miss Clark said.
He 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.
Over 40 years, Sir Ed raised funds to build 30 schools, two hospitals, many medical clinics and a number of bridges.
“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,” Miss Clark said.
Sir Ed’s early days were spent in south Auckland and his first encounter with a mountain was as a 16-year-old on a school trip to Mount Ruapehu in the central North Island.
By his own admission, Sir Ed was a great reader and dreamer, with a gift for understatement.
From the summit of Everest, Norgay and the former beekeeper and World War II Catalina flying boat navigator were catapulted to stardom; their climb was hailed as a Coronation Day present for the Queen.
But it was the 15 minutes they spent on the mountaintop that was to shape the rest of their lives.
Always the adventurer, Sir Ed again skated on thin ice when he led a fleet of farm tractors across the Antarctic. They kept going, all the way to the South Pole, after Sir Ed defied the orders of expedition head, Sir Vivian Fuchs.
But there was more to come for the boy from Tuakau – he led a jetboat expedition up the Ganges River from the sea to the mountains.
But the adventures were to take a toll on the Hillary family – Sir Ed’s first wife Louise and daughter Belinda were killed in a plane crash in Kathmandu in 1975.
This was while the family was deeply involved in charity work in Nepal.
Sir Ed, accompanied by his second wife June, the widow of climber Peter Mulgrew, who died in the Erebus air crash in Antarctica, returned to Nepal for the 50th anniversary of the conquest of Everest.
On that occasion he was treated like a God, and given Nepalese citizenship.
But New Zealanders, and the rest of the world, will remember him as the man who, literally, stood on top of the world.
He left a message for them all – “I think we have to become peaceful people. Do good jobs, but be rather peaceful about it.”