Edmund Hillary

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Edmund Hillary in Warsaw (June 17, 2004)
Edmund Hillary with Tenzing Norgay
Edmund Hillary (1957)
On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent of Mount Everest
Route of the ascent of Everest in April / May 1953

Sir Edmund Percival Hillary , KG , KBE (born July 20, 1919 in Auckland , † January 11, 2008 ibid) was a New Zealand mountaineer . Together with the Nepalese mountaineer Tenzing Norgay , a Sherpa , he managed the first ascent of Mount Everest , the highest mountain on earth, on May 29, 1953 .


Hillary was born the second of three children to Gertrude (née Clark) and Percival Augustus. He went to school in Auckland , from the age of twelve to the famous Auckland Grammar School . As a child he learned to mountaineering in the New Zealand Alps . His first ascent was the Ruapehu volcano in New Zealand in 1933 . He attended the University of Auckland for two years before becoming a beekeeper like his father . During World War II he was a navigator in the Royal New Zealand Air Force from 1944 to 1945 . In 1948 he climbed the Aoraki / Mount Cook for the first time over the south ridge with Harry Ayres .

In 1951 Hillary was a member of an expedition of four New Zealand mountaineers to the Indian part of the Himalayas . The following year he joined a British expedition led by Eric Shipton , which explored a new route on Mount Everest in Nepal. On May 29, 1953, together with Tenzing Norgay (1914–1986), he succeeded in the documented first ascent of the 8,848 meter high Mount Everest as a member of a British expedition led by John Hunt . The last part of the summit ridge he overcame as a rope first, a cumbersome and dangerous steep step in the ridge, which has since borne his name, the Hillary Step : He took the risk, backwards against the rock in the column of the east-side cornice hochzuspreizen, which In the worst case, it could have loosened and dragged it 3,000 meters down to the Tibetan side on the Kangshung Glacier. The event was recorded in the documentary Conquering Everest .

The exact time was 11.30 a.m. When they reached the summit, they hugged, Hillary took a picture of Norgay but forgot to take a picture, or Norgay didn't know how to use a camera. Tenzing also laid sweets as sacrifices for the gods on the mountain top. Both looked on the summit for traces of a possible earlier ascent by the roped team of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine , who had disappeared near the summit 29 years earlier, on June 10, 1924, but found no traces. Edmund Hillary commented on the myth of an earlier, fatal first ascent that it is not important to be the first to climb, but to come down alive.

News of the British expedition's successful ascent of Everest reached London on the eve of Elizabeth II's coronation ; As early as the march back Hillary received the first letter from London, addressed to "Sir Edmund Hillary, KBE" ( Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire ), which also meant his elevation to the knighthood of the United Kingdom. About the announcement of his success by the British BBC , Hillary said with a smile: “When I heard that, I thought: We really did it. If the BBC reports it, it must be true. "

On the same return voyage, a dispute broke out among the Nepalese public as to which of the two-party team was up first; the Nepalese forced the primacy of their compatriot Tenzing Norgay, who had been persuaded to sign a corresponding declaration. But Tenzing and Hillary always said they went to the summit together. Both had taken a vow of silence. They remained lifelong friends.

On further expeditions in the 1950s and 1960s, he climbed numerous other Himalayan peaks. As part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition , he reached the South Pole on January 4, 1958, shortly before Vivian Fuchs and thus led the third overland expedition to the pole after Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott .

Hillary commented on mountaineering events, especially on Mount Everest, in the media. He castigated the climbing trade on Everest that developed in the early 1990s, which in 1996 and again in 2006 led to a series of deaths, especially high on the mountain in the death zone , because unsuitable people were brought to the mountain with too high a level of ambition as customers of commercial Everest expedition operators were. Most recently, in May 2006, he made negative comments about a New Zealander who continuously climbed Everest on two plastic prostheses and left an almost frozen Englishman lying in the death zone, who died shortly afterwards. Hillary publicly described the continuation of the ascent and the lack of help as an outgrowth of extreme ambition and lamented the loss of the mountaineering virtue of camaraderie in escalating commerce, selfishness and over-ambition. Hillary is considered a national legend in New Zealand and had a good reputation for sporting matters. Internationally, however, he was also criticized for statements that were sometimes considered thoughtless.

Together with his wife Louise Mary Rose, Hillary had three children: Peter, Sarah and Belinda. In 1975 Louise and 16-year-old Belinda died in a plane crash near Kathmandu . In 1989 Hillary married June Mulgrew, the widow of his former expedition companion Peter David Mulgrew, who died in 1979 when Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed when the plane was on a scenic flight over Antarctica on Mount Erebus shattered.

From 1984 to 1989 Sir Edmund Hillary was New Zealand's Ambassador to India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Hillary founded the Himalayan Trust in the 1960s to support the Nepalese Sherpas . As a result, hospitals and schools were built in the Nepalese Khumbu region near Everest, the home of the Sherpas. Hillary himself described this help as the most important part of his life. For this support he made a large part of his income from his publications and lectures available.

He was Honorary President of the Mountain Wilderness conservation organization .

As early as 2007, Hillary complained frequently about health problems. After traveling to Nepal in May 2007, he was treated in a hospital. Edmund Hillary died of a heart attack in a hospital in Auckland on January 11, 2008 at 9:35 am New Zealand time. After his death, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark described him as a "legendary mountaineer, adventurer and philanthropist" and as "the most famous New Zealander who has ever lived".

Hillary received a state funeral and 600 guests attended the funeral service at St. Mary's Cathedral in Auckland. The coffin was wrapped in the New Zealand state flag and decorated with the ice ax Hillary used to climb Mount Everest. After the state ceremony, Hillary's body was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the port of Auckland according to his family's wishes.

The New Zealand flag at the University of Canterbury at Christchurch hangs at half-mast on the day of Hillary's death.



“You don't have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things - to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals. "

“You don't have to be a fantastic hero to achieve certain things - to be able to keep up. You can be a normal guy who is motivated enough to master challenging goals. "


  • High adventure. Oxford University Press, 1955.
    • I stood on Everest. Brockhaus, Wiesbaden 1959; 5th edition ibid. Under the title I stood on Everest. My first ascent with Scherpa Tensing. 1974, ISBN 3-7653-0185-X .
  • No Latitude for Error. Hodder & Stoughton, 1961.
    • The race to the South Pole. Econ-Verlag, Düsseldorf / Vienna 1961.
  • with Desmond Doig: High in the thin cold air. Doubleday, 1962.
    • Snow people and mountaineers. The Hillary-Himalaya Expedition 1960/1961. Brockhaus, Wiesbaden 1963.
  • Nothing venture, nothing win. Hodder & Stoughton, London 1975.
  • From the ocean to the sky. Jet Boating Up the Ganges. Ulverscroft, Leicester 1980, ISBN 0-7089-0587-0 .
  • Ecology 2000. Kampmann & Co, 1984.
    • Time bomb environment. Do we still have a chance? Heyne, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-453-02449-4 .
  • View From the Summit. Doubleday, London 1999, ISBN 0-385-60020-8 .

Web links

Commons : Edmund Hillary  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. " The Early Years of Edmund Hillary " in New Zealand History; accessed on July 3, 2020. ( English )
  2. Biography of Peter David Mulgrew on the New Zealand Antarctic Veterans Association website .
  3. About Us . Himalayan Trust , 2015, accessed November 30, 2015 .
  4. Westfälische Rundschau from January 23, 2008 - page daily newspaper .
  5. ^ Lutz D. Schmadel : Dictionary of Minor Planet Names . Fifth Revised and Enlarged Edition. Ed .: Lutz D. Schmadel. 5th edition. Springer Verlag , Berlin , Heidelberg 2003, ISBN 978-3-540-29925-7 , pp. 186 (English, 992 pp., Link.springer.com [ONLINE; accessed on September 13, 2020] Original title: Dictionary of Minor Planet Names . First edition: Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg 1992): “1981 YO. Discovered 1981 Dec. 20 by A. Mrkos at Kleť. "
  6. Time : TIME 100: Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay , June 14, 1999.