Sir Edmund Hillary Dies

A quick one this and nothing to do with Northern Ireland politics or culture but, I think, worth a mention.Sir Edmund Hillary who along with Tenzing Norgay were the first people to successfully climb Everest has died at the age of 88 after a short illness (obituary here). He appears to have been an extremely nice man. One point which is often mentioned is who got to the top first. I have done a very little climbing but it has shown me that the question of who got to the top first is utterly irrelevant; climbing is a completely team activity. In their case a life and death team activity.

Spare a thought though for my personal hero George Mallory who died trying to climb Everest along with Sandy Irvine. For me he is an heroic failure battling against overwhelming odds and failing, a bit like elves (or hopefully not my political movement). Oh dear we are back to NI politics.

Also I would like to note Roger McMorrow and Nigel Hart who climbed Everest last year as part of a medical research team, saved a young woman’s life and are QUB Graduates of the Year.

  • graduate

    HAve to agree that while not connected to NI this is worth a mention, if only because Sir Edmnd seems to have been an absolute gent. Also, he embodies the spirit of adventure which is so sorely lacking today.

  • bollix

    ever having my ears alert to pick up the sounds of residual colonialism / racism, i did pick up some echoes of it in the reporting of hilary’s death.
    for many years norgay and hilary stuck to the line that “we both did it together” which is i think the most accurate way to report it. Not quite enough talk of norgay in some of the media reports. the traditional blind spot of something not being done unless it is done by a white male.

    anyway, hilary didn’t suffer from this residual feeling of racial superiority. he was a great man, a great advert for mountaineers and for new zealanders. he did alot of work in nepal for the rest of his life.

  • Greenflag

    ‘he was a great man, a great advert for mountaineers and for new zealanders. he did alot of work in nepal for the rest of his life’

    Thanks for that:)

    ‘the traditional blind spot of something not being done unless it is done by a white male.’

    When Hilary & Norgay climbed Everest it was 1957. The Empire was still around and Civil Rights legislation in the USA was still ten years away . Most of sub Saharan Africa had not yet made the transition from colonialism to one party dictatorship sorry.

  • dewi

    1953 Greenflag. Turgon – enjoyed this and your Kenyan one – Fundamentalist stuff like from another planet. Each to his own though – keep up the throughput.

  • Donnacha

    Glad to see Sir Ed mentioned., An absolute gentleman, who really didn’t like the fuss at all. His work in Nepal and NZ’s own Outward Bound organisation would have been enough to register him as a legend in my eyes, even without his climbing of everest and his audacious trek to the South Pole on a Massey-Ferguson tractor. I interviewed him once and it was strange indeed to be talking to someone whose face adorned the $5 note.

  • Dewi

    Another Remarkable New Zealander Astonshing warrior – and not even Maori Donnacha.

  • Donnacha

    This country has something of a penchant for churning out rugged, laconic good keen men. Only one left now, though, the still-formidable Colin “Pintetree” Meads, whose training for test matches involved running around a King Country farm with a sheep under each arm.
    Upham was a real exception though. I’d like to know what his response would be to the little arseholes who stole his VC along with several others from the Waiouru Army Museum.

  • moochin Photoman

    He was a remarkable man for sure
    The phrase “a life well lived” doesn’t do the man enough justice.
    He left behind 14(?) schools in Nepal as part of his foundation which was way ahead of ahead of it’s time as was he.
    I always think of Wilfred Thesiger when i think of Hillary and Mallory tho Thesiger is probably alot more of a complex and selfish character.

  • Rory

    I think that, since the greatest immediate effect of Sir Edmund’s achievement was to shine reflected glory on the Princess Elizabeth and her coronation as Elizabeth II and to magnify her popularity as a consequence, the very least that Her Majesty could now do in return would be for herself to climb Mount Everest in Sir Edmund’s memory, perhaps accompanied by Princes Philip and Charles as bearers. What do other folks think of this idea?

  • Dewi

    Rory – or at least sort out the minor fuss in nepal

    Found your cafe by the way !

  • Donnacha

    Ah Rory, according to Sir Ed, that was an unintended consequence and not his main reason for “knocking the bastard off”. He was quite embarrassed by the fulsome Little Englander response of the NZ PM of the day. However, I think your idea has merit….

  • Harry Flashman

    *the fulsome Little Englander response of the NZ PM of the day. However, I think your idea has merit….*

    Well you can look back on history with the blinkered views of today but the fact remains that at the time the event was regarded by most people in the Commonwealth as a great “British” event in the widest aspect of the term (I for one didn’t even know Hillary was a Kiwi until I was in my twenties) and in 1953 there were fewer more loyal places in the Empire than New Zealand.

    It’s fine to recognise that NZ has changed but you cannot airbrush history. Your perjorative use of the term “Little Englander” is of course completely inaccurate as Little Englanders were the people in England who wanted no part of a wider Empire and Commonwealth so to refer to a NZ premier who relished the connections with Britain, Australia and Canada as a little Englander is a bit inappropriate.

  • Donnacha

    Oh I do apologise for my misuse of the phrase Little Englander. It must be a common misconception, then. However, even politicians in “few more loyal” NZ were embarrassed by the gushing jingoism of Sid Holland.

  • Harry Flashman

    No need to apologise old chap. Have a look at the film coverage of the Queen’s visit to NZ in the ’50s (there’s a particular scene of the crowds of people who ran along the railway line to greet her train, tens of thousands of them running and waving from station to station) if you doubt that the Kiwis weren’t the most true blue sons of Empire. They made the Orangemen look wishy washy by comparison.

    I agree that today, New Zealand like the other once great loyal dominion Canada, have changed but one still should not rewrite history. One or two politicians expressing doubts about a speech made by another politician is hardly evidence of a people embarrassed by their British heritage.

  • Donnacha

    Frankly I am delighted I never encountered NZ in its “golden weather” era of full employment and rigd conformity. However, friends and relatives who remember those times were embarrassed there and then, not with hindsight. Still, such petty squabbling is not seemly when talking of the lovely, avuncular Sir Ed, who used to get embarrassed when people he would pay for something with a fiver and then have to endure the shopkeeper saying “Aren’t you…isn’t that you…etc” Ah the travails of being on money.