Sir Edmund Hillary, the man who made the first ascent of Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, died today. Here is what I wrote to the Nacirema Drinking Society:
This is so strange. This is a man who was profoundly influential on my life. The first thing that inspired me to climb was the book High in the Thin Cold Air, by Ed Hillary. On the cover was Amadablam, the mountain that inspired me to climb mountains. In fact, I was writing a blog on this topic, still unfinished, just this morning. I read everything that Hillary had written prior to ever lacing up a pair of boots. Hillary always reminded me of my dad. And here I am, in Nepal, Hillary’s true home (he was the New Zealand ambassador and did a ton of work on the schools here) and most likely even drinking Everest beer, with Tenzing on the label, when he dies. Life can be poetic in the oddest sense.
I would recommend Chang as drink of the month but am afraid I’d be the only one who could procure some. In lieu of anything else particularly Hillary-esqe, I’ll second a Beefeater martini and I’ll find myself a few later this evening. After all, he was knighted by the Queen.
“I don’t remember much about those seven days (stuck in a snow storm on Cho Oyu) except that somewhere around day 4 or 5 George (Lowe, Kiwi not ours) came over, stuck his head inside my tent and said, ‘You know, Ed, some people wouldn’t think this was fun. (sic)”
This is from memory from one reading of his first autobiography, Nothing Venture, Nothing Win (now out of print and nearly impossible to find), back in the early 80s. Influential is no exaggeration.
So tonight raise a glass to one of the most important people in my life who, at least, is directly responsible for me spending a good portion of my life in the thin cold air.
Cheers Ed. Ya done good, mate.