- HB Kham
The entire world including Nepal celebrated Sir Edmund Hillary’s birth centenary on 20 July 2019. Hillary was not only a mountaineer and explorer but also a popular philanthropist for Nepal. He was a very humble and true citizen of New Zealand.
Nepal Mountaineering Association Sunday formally organized a program in the capital city of Kathmandu to mark the occasion of centenary for the birth of Sir Edmund Hillary.
Similarly, to mark the birth centenary of Hillary, Himalayan Trust Nepal also organized a program in Kathmandu during which documentary on Hillary’s life was shown.
Helen Clark is coming to Nepal
Erstwhile Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand is trekking through Nepal this week to mark the centenary of Hillary’s birth.
According to media reports, the government of New Zealand has recently announced that the South Ridge of Mt. Cook will be re-named, Hillary Ridge.
Hillary was born on July 20, 1919, in New Zealand at Aukland in a small village known as Tuakau, where he received his primary education. In childhood, he was a “small and lonely child.” It was a humble beginning. His mother used to teach in a city school. He started loving snow and mountaineering when he was only 16 years.
When Hillary had attained the age of 20, he had climbed Mt. Olivier in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. He had studied science and math at Auckland University. He also joined New Zealand Air Force during World War II and went through the ordeals of suffering from a burn in a boat accident.
He was very much resolute in summiting Mt. Everest. So, he resumed his love for mountaineering after the war. His summit of New Zealand’s highest peak allowed him to join a British expedition to Everest in 1951. Finally, on May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay succeeded in summiting Everest and became the first persons to stand atop the world’s highest mountain.
Adventurer and Explorer
Soon after achieving the name and fame for climbing Mt. Everest, Hillary turned to exploration to the South Pole as a leader of the New Zealand division of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition and finished his journey on January 4, 1958.
He also traversed most of the rivers of Nepal on a jet boat in 1968. In 1885, Hillary and Astronaut Neil Armstrong flew a small twin-engine plane to the North Pole, making Hillary the first man to stand at both poles and the summit of Everest.
As a Philanthropist
Sir Edmund Hillary was also a great philanthropist for Nepal as he has contributed to the development of backward communities and regions of Nepal by establishing several schools and hospitals. His love for Nepal was immeasurable.
Legacy, Tragedy, and Death
Sir Edmund Hillary, the most humble, trusted man, philanthropist and explorer for New Zealand died on January 11, 2008. Such a great personality had to face a tragedy in 1975 when his beloved wife and one of his daughters were killed in a plane crash.
Hillary wanted to support the poor Sherpa people. So, he founded a charity organization called “The Himalayan Trust’ which contributed substantially to the promotion of Sherpa education and health through 17 schools and hospitals since1960s.
He was conferred an honorary citizen of Nepal in 2003 and was also high commissioner to Nepal for India and Bangladesh in 1985 and 1988.
Time Magazine featured him as one of the most influential persons of the 20th century. Several geographic regions bear Hillary’s name such as “Hillary’s step” while climbing Mt. Everest and New Zealand five-dollar note which has his image.
Hillary also built two airstrips in Nepal that acted as a milestone to bring in more tourists. He even asked the Nepal government to pass laws to protect the forest and declare the area near Everest as National park and used his influence to prevail upon the New Zealand government to give financial supports to Projects in Nepal.
What was typical about Hillary was that he did not think that he was an explorer or philanthropist. He simply thought that he was a bee-keeper and an adventurer.
Hillary was the founding chairperson of Volunteer Service Abroad to send New Zealand volunteers to Samoa and Thailand. For 13 years he held this position.
Hillary has also authored books like High Adventure (a true story about his first ascent to Everest), High in the Thin Cold Air (1962) co-authored with Desmond Doig, View from the Summit and From the Ocean to the Sky.
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