Friday, January 11

Sir Edmund Hillary - Forget About Everest

When I heard the news late last night that Hillary was gone, there was no particular sense of sadness or loss.

His legend, created a few years before I was born, has always been a historical fact during my own personal history. His importance to the man in the street is always associated with that particular climb. And to some extent this has been accentuated by the way the summit success news was released to the world to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. A timing reportedly stage managed with great care by the nationalistic , ascent sponsor, the Himalayan Committee.
For any mention of the coronation always seems to throw in the "news has just arrived from Nepal ..." angle.

And so this was a post I did not intend to make. Enough words will appear elsewhere to celebrate the man's achievement. But as a mountaineer others have a more deserved stature, Chris Bonnington, with his ability to plan and succeed where others fail, and live to tell the story, or more importantly Reinhold Messner - a true giant of mountaineering.

However, whilst catching up with the outdoor blogs today I cam across a short piece from Weird Darren which chimed in with my own thoughts on Hillary's true celebrity. And an early comment from Dawn, a woman with far more years hill and mountain experience than I will ever have, reinforced my mood.
And so I left a comment which I felt should also appear here (A first for me I think. Its not a trait I normally follow to cut/paste my comments left elsewhere)

Take it as a small gesture of thanks to a truly great man:
"Its the true value of the man's character that he reached his peak (no pun intended) and then showed that there is far more to a life than just meeting THE CHALLENGE, but then getting lost in it afterwards. Or worse just living off the fame. A one trick horse, which seems to be a substitute for many celebs with claim to fame these days.

In fact in the obituary interviews I've seen today he seems vaguely disinterested, almost embarrassed, about Everest. After all he was 33 when he summited, and its no secret that his real achievement and love was his Himalayan Trust.

People will may occasionally remember him for Mt Everest. But climbers and packers will see a bit of him every time they journey in Nepal.

To lift a Hillary quote from BBC News "My most worthwhile things have been the building of schools and clinics. That has given me more satisfaction than a footprint on a mountain"

Now that is true achievement.

Sometimes we find ourselves in the prescence of giants, but do not notice them as they pass quietly by.


In our celebrity based culture we have lost the true meaning of greatness.
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