Friday, January 11, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary

One of the most amazing obits I've read in a while. Here's just a sample:

[H]e had a narrow escape when the ice gave way as he was moving loads up to this camp [III], plunging him into a crevasse. Fortunately [Norgay] Tenzing, who was following, thrust his ice-axe in the snow, and whipped the rope round it in good belay. It tightened just in time to prevent Hillary being smashed to pieces at the bottom of the crevasse. Thereafter Hillary began to think of Tenzing as the ideal partner in a bid for the summit.


Hillary reached the summit first, as Tenzing admitted in an autobiography as early as 1955. But since Hillary insisted that the matter was of no importance, and that the achievement belonged equally to them both, he refused for years to claim any primacy - even when the King of Nepal announced that Tenzing had been on the summit before him.

Many good people I've had the chance to meet from New Zealand have had a vision of Hillary as being something of the "ideal Kiwi," the fellow countryman who exemplifies the very best their country has to offer (they even put him on their five dollar bill).

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