Sir Edmund Hillary

By: Haley Whitworth

Life Brief

Edmund Hillary was born on July 20, 1919. He grew up in Tuakau, New Zealand and live with his mother, father, brother, and sister. His mother was a teacher, which helped in his studies, as well as the fact that he was extremely smart. He loved to read books about adventure, but really got a taste for it when a class trip took him to Mount Ruapehu. This is where his love for climbing truly arose.

After his momentous climb, Sir Hillary settled down and married and old friend named Louise Rose,with whom he had three children with. Their names were Peter, Belinda, and Sarah. Unfortunately, his wife and daughter Belinda died in a plane crash. He uses his anguish as fuel to work harder for the Sherpa people, and eventually remarried to a women named June Mulgrew. Hillary died January 11, 2008.

Background Symbolism

Although it's not easy to see because they put the main focus behind where all of my information is, the main part of my background is a mountain looming over a town below. This relates to Edmund Hillary for many reasons. While his main accomplishment in life is being credited for being the first to reach the top of Mt. Everest, he spent the rest of his life after helping the Sherpa people who live at the base of the mountain. He once turned down an invitation from the Queen of England to say with the Sherpa people. He's been quoted saying, "I came to the Himalayas for the mountains, and stayed for the people" (Elish 69). This background is able to represent Hilary because it not only includes a looming mountain which can symbolize Mt. Everest, but also the town below which can symbolize the Sherpas.

Pick 3

  1. One significant fact about Edmund Hillary loved books growing up and excelled in school. His love of reading is one of the many things that sparked his love for seeking out adventure. "Due in part to this fondness for literature, Hillary grew up with an extremely active imagination. ...[Hillary] recalled the youthful flights of fancy that were spurred by his love of reading" (Elish 7).
  2. Another significant fact about Edmund Hillary is how humbly he reacted in response to his great achievement. Hillary not only became world wide news, but he was also knighted by the queen of England. In response to being knighted he is quoted saying "I regarded it all a a bit of a joke ... I realized that we had done quite well, but we just climbed a mountain" (Elish 61).
  3. The last significant fact about Edmund Hillary is his aptitude to climbing. When climbing large mountains, mountaineers often have to spend time in the are before their trek so they can slowly get used to the thinner air. It is said though that "One of the reasons Hillary was such a skilled climber might have been his natural ability to function in thin air" (Elish 38).


Edmund Hillary is credited to be the first person to successfully be able to reach the top of Mt. Everest. Although this is the big accomplishment that he is known for, he's also helped out on other smaller expeditions as well. In 1955 he helped another explorer cross the entire continent of Antarctica. To Hillary, life wasn't a big enough he was constantly seeking out new ones. "Everest was more of a beginning than an end" (Elish 63).


Climbing a mountain is no easy feat, and of course Everest is no different. There were many challenges presented along the way in trying to reach the top. Making sure that they always had enough oxygen was the biggest one, but they also struggled with parts of the mountain where the snow came up to their waist, causing their progress to be slow. There was even one time where Hillary's partner's oxygen tube froze, giving him a limited amount. "[Hillary's climbing partner's] breathing was shallow and labored. A quick inspection revealed that [his] oxygen tube had become clogged with ice" (Elish 57).

Mentor/ Friend

A person who made a huge impact on Sir Hillary's life was his climbing partner, Tenzing Norgay. Norgay was one of the Sherpas, and ended up being paired with Hillary when split into climbing groups. They were a very strong team together, and without him, Hillary might not have ever made it to the top. Hillary once said after Norgay saved his life that, [Norgay's] rope work was first class, as me near-catastrophe had shown. ... Best of all, as far as I was concerned, he was prepared to go fast and hard" (Elish 39-40).


Sir Edmund Hillary was knighted for his successful climb up Mt. Everest and was heavily praised by the people. New Zealand, which is where he grew up, even put his face on the five dollar bill. Besides being the first to climb Everest, he went on tons of other expeditions, like crossing the continent of Antarctica and leading a group down the Ganges River by motor boat.

Hobbies / Interests

Sir Hillary doesn't really have a set career. He dedicates a lot of his time to helping the Sherpa people, and while he was still young, he went on quite a few major expeditions. Hillary was the first person to have been to both of the poles and the top of Mt. Everest. When he was younger, he loved to go out and climb mountains, and read. After Expedition Everest though, he spent most of his free time helping out the Sherpa people.


I personally think that Sir Edmund Hillary is best compared to as an ice axe. I think of him this way for a few reasons. One is, of course, because of the fact that ice axes are used for mountain climbing, and mountain climbing is what Edmund Hillary is known for. Another reason is because throughout the expedition, Hillary proved himself to be strong and reliable, just like an ice axe. While the first team was came across difficulties while trying to reach the summit its said he "begged permission to ho up to help, [The Leader] refused, determined to keep the summit teams rested" (Elish 44).

Friend or Foe

I think if I got the chance to meet Sir Edmund Hillary, we would be friends. I admire his selflessness, and his great drive and ambition. I can't imagine how interesting the stories of his great adventures would be to listen too, and I love listening to other people's stories about their journeys. He was also a very kindhearted and humble man, so talking to him wouldn't only be him gloating about his achievements.

Most Like

I think that Sir Edmund Hillary is most like Robert F. Scott. Scott is famous for his doomed expedition to be the first one to reach the south pole, and the diary kept during his journey. While it's obvious that Hillary achieved his goal while Scott did not, they are alike in many ways. Both Scott and Hillary were both humble people, crediting a lot of their success and journeys to the people and team who helped them along the way. They both had great drive that kept them going, even through the hard patches, Hillary managed to stay strong, and even through things like frost bite and blizzards, Scott always tried to keep positive for his team. And lastly, while there had been failed expeditions before on Mt. Everest, while Scott was one of the first people to explore the Antarctic, they were both pioneers in new frontiers, carving the way for people after them.

Altruist or Egotist

Sir Edmund Hillary is definitely an altruist. Not only is he humble, but he could have lead a cushy life after successfully reaching the summit of Mt. Everest, but he kept working anyways. While he was constantly hounded by the press after his descent, he refused to take all of the credit, letting them know it was a ll a team effort. As well as seeking adventure after his Everest trip, he also devoted much of his life to helping the Sherpa people. He raised money to have school, hospitals, medical clinics, and airfields built over the years.


Your Choice

One of the things that I would like to address is Hillary's aptitude for climbing mountains. Mentioned multiple times throughout the book, a large part of his success is probably due to the fact that he was able to function in low oxygen better than other people. On the first mountain he climbed it was said, "he was pleased to discover that he had a much greater stamina than his classmates" (Elish 14). This is also addressed though when he's actually on the expedition for climbing Mt. Everest saying, "One of the reasons Hillary was such a skilled climber might have been his natural ability to function in thin air" (Elish 38).

Your Choice

One of the most interesting things to me about Edmund Hillary was his love and dedication for the Sherpa people. After his successful expedition, Hillary could have enjoyed a comfortable life without having to work hard for the rest of his years. Instead, Hillary dedicates the rest of his life to improving the living environment of the Sherpa people. He once even declined an invitation from the queen of England to be with them! I think that his dedication to the Sherpa people, even when there wasn't a need for him to be so involved, says a lot about him as a person, and it's one of the most interesting things to me about Sir Edmund Hillary.