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Sir Edmund Hillary
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Sir Edmund Hillary

Edmund Hillary, the New Zealand Hero is known throughout the world as the first person to set foot on the summit of Mt. Everest. He achieved this feat in 1953 along with the Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay.
He was born in Auckland, on 20 July 1919. His father was a journalist who later turned to bee keeping. His mother was a school teacher. He had an older sister & a younger brother in his family.
He attended the primary school in Tuakau, & later went to Auckland Boysí Grammar School. It was while he was at Auckland Grammar that Edmund had his first experience of the mountains, when he went on a class trip to Mt. Ruapehu. It was the beginning of an interest that was to last for a lifetime. After leaving school, he attended University for 2 years. .
During 1939, he went on a mountaineering trip to the southern Alps & climbed his first mountain, Mt. Oliver in the Sealey Range. He 1943, he joined the airforce, but he still managed to climb Mounts Tapuaenuku & Egmont while he was off duty. He took the opportunity to climb Mt. Cook, NZís highest mountain at 3,764 metres. His companion was Harry Ayres, a very experienced & able mountaineer. In 1949, he visited Europe & did some climbing in the Austrian & Swiss Alps with a group of friends. His big opportunity came in 1951, when his friend George Lowe invited him to join a New Zealand expedition to the Himalayan mountain range. In 1953, he was invited to join a British expedition, which intended climbing Everest for the 1st time. This was a big expedition, led by Colonel John Hunt. It consisted of 9 climbers, including Edmund & fellow New Zealander George Lowe, a doctor, a cameraman, 34 Sherpas & 350 porters to help carry all of the equipment. The expedition reached Solu Khumu in Nepal in March 1953. Eventually, the climbers managed to establish a camp on the ridge called the South Col, at a height of 7,900 metres. At 8,500 metres, Hillary & Tenzing, pitched their tents while the others trudged back down the mountain. At 9 a.m. they reached the South Summit & strapping on their last oxygen bottles, continued on their way to the top. A steep rock-face gave them problems, but they discovered a way up & after climbing a gentle slope, found themselves standing on the top of the world. They spent 15 minutes on the top of Mt. Everest, taking photos & enjoying the fantastic view over the snow-clad Himalayas. When they arrived in Delhi, they were given gold medals by the Indian Prime Minister, Nehru. Later that year, he received his knighthood at a private ceremony held at Buckingham Palace.
He married Louise & had 3 children Peter, Sarah & Belinda. In 1975, Louise & Belinda Hillary died in a plane crash in Nepal. After the death of these two, he was very low for 2 years. In 1986, Tenzing Norgay died. In 1990, Peter Hillary also reached the top of the Mt. Everest.
Edmund Hillary's personal income has come from writing & lecturing. Since the 60ís, his life has been dominated by fundraising for his Himalayan Trust, which has built 27 schools, 12 medical clinics, 2 hospitals & 2 airfields for the Sherpas.

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