Sir Edmund Hillary

Civil Rights Monument

His Heroic act

In 1953 the British had received approval to make an attempt at scaling Mount Everest. The government of Nepal would only allow one expedition a year, so this was a big deal. The leader of the expedition, John Hunt, asked Hillary to join in the climb.When climbing a mountain as high as Mount Everest, a large group of people are needed. There were over 400 members of the expedition. They climbed the mountain in stages, moving to a higher camp every few weeks and then getting acclimated to the high altitude. At each stage fewer and fewer people would continue to climb.Once they got to the final camp, there were two teams chosen to climb the last stage to the summit. One team was Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. The other team was Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans. The team of Bourdillon and Evans tried first, but they failed to make it to the top. They got within 300 feet, but had to turn back.

His act of Help

Now world famous, Sir Edmund Hillary turned to Antarctic exploration and led the New Zealand section of the Trans-Antarctic expedition from 1955 to 1958. In 1958 he participated in the first mechanized expedition to the South Pole. Hillary went on to organize further mountain-climbing expeditions but, as the years passed, he became more and more concerned with the welfare of the Nepalese people. In the 1960s. he returned to Nepal, to aid in the development of the society, building clinics, hospitals and 17 schools.

Another Heroic act

To facilitate these projects, two airstrips were built. These airstrips had the unforeseen consequence of bringing more tourists and would-be mountain climbers to the remote region. The Nepalese cut down ever more of their forests to provide fuel for the mountaineers. Edmund Hillary became concerned about the degradation of the environment of the Himalayas and persuaded the Nepalese government to pass laws protecting the forest and to declare the area around Everest a National Park. The Nepalese could not afford to fund this project themselves and had no experience in park management. Hillary used his great prestige to persuade the government of New Zealand to provide the necessary aid.