57. EDMUND HILLARY: An ordinary chap
Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008) was a New Zealand mountaineer and adventurer who was one of the first people, along with Nepalese sherpa Tenzing Norgay, to reach the summit of Mt Everest in 1953. As well as scaling Chomolungma (the Tibetan name for Everest), Hillary was also in expeditions to the North and South poles and spent much of his later life helping the Nepalese people of the Himalayas. Hillary was very humble and often said he didn’t have any special talents and was only blessed with ‘modest abilities’, but had a strong determination and will to succeed.
– I used the iconic picture Tenzing took of Hillary at the summit as reference. (UPDATE: Sorry, that’s actually Tenzig on the summit. I’ve changed the colour of the pants to match what Hillary was wearing.)
– Came upon this great BBC documentary on YouTube about the 1953 expedition while researching this post.
– I was initially going to do a quote submitted by a reader, Arjun: “I will come again & conquer you because as a mountain you can’t grow, but as a human, I can.” This is often cited as Hillary’s but upon further research there’s no evidence he said it. Shame.
– I’ve had a fascination with Everest since I read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, a remarkable account of a tragic Everest expedition which suffered eight casualties.
– The names of the different parts of Everest just sound so cool, like they’re out of a Tolkien novel: The Khumbu Icefall, Western Cwm, Lhotse Face, South Col and Hillary Step.