Sir Edmund Hillary passes

Edmund Hillary, Tensing Norgay

(Edmund Hillary, Tensing Norgay. Time Magazine)

I heard Tenzing Norgay’s son speak some years ago. He showed photos of Hillary and his father taken the morning of their final ascent of Everest. In amazement he said, look at what they are wearing, huge heavy boots, enormously bulky clothes, no Gore-Tex, and they were carrying 60 pounds of oxygen each.

Hillary always made a point of saying that ascents of Everest would be not be possible without sherpas who, although only weighing about 120-130 lbs., routinely shuttle 80-100 lb. backpacks to the various base camps. He once said, you can’t see sherpas when they’re standing next to you, then they inhale and block the horizon. He remained a friend to sherpas, and worked with them for four decades after the ascent.

From Time

Once, while resting on a rock during a short trek in Nepal with friend and film director Michael Dillon, an American walker stopped and showed Hillary how to hold an ice-axe. “Hillary listened and thanked him, but said nothing else,” remembers Dillon. “The American went away without any idea whom he had spoken to.” The first man to stand on top of the world didn’t see himself as a hero. Others always will.