Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Summit of Class

Sad day here at the offices of blogdai.

Sir Edmund Hillary, first to ascend Everest with His lifelong friend Tenzing Norgay, died today.

I think it was his time.

The last I saw of Sir Ed, he was in Kathmandu making an appearance at the Marshyangdi Hotel. He looked frail and moved slow; but his love for Nepal and the Sherpa people was always evident.
He was class. He was a pioneer. Yes, perhaps the whole "Everest experience" was becoming too cheepened for him--he spent his last years lamenting the commercialization of the ascent, the ridiculous tricks and stunts performed from its summit, and the increasing disregard for the environment and people of the Khumbu by money-engorged adventure tourists bent on nothing more than having the best story to tell at the first cocktail party they find on their return home.

Imagine what the ascent must have been like in his time. Good, credible experts were dead certain that the human body would "explode" at altitudes above 20,000 feet. Mallory had mysteriously failed from the North. There was no sophisticated gear and only an unreliable, primitive oxygen delivery system that, we understand, Sir Ed shunned until it was absolutely necessary. Standing on top, in typical Kiwi modesty and understatement, he looked at Norgay and calmly said: "It looks like we've knocked the bastard off." (Or thereabouts)

Contrast that with today where we have, what amounts to, spoiled brats with latte's and internet connections all the way from Gorak Shep to base camp. Don't get blogdai wrong here, you can still die on Everest and it's a very dangerous mountain sure, but it's power is diminished when you have a stud Sherpa hauling your ass up the Hillary Step on the back of a short rope.

I understand from the climbing community that Everest ascents are becoming a bit of a Tiffany joke. Throw enough money at the expedition and you get your summit. blogdai has no respect for such disrespect of culture and nature. Idiots with money and their Gore-Tex boldly going where every rich man has now gone before.

blogdai friend, two time summiteer of Everest, and a Kiwi, Jamie McGuinness shares Sir Ed's anguish over what has become a cheap carnival on Everest. In the space of one year, Jamie supervised an Indian girl as far as possible up Everest so she wouldn't lose face in her petty little village; and photographed the French touching down, illegally, via hellicopter, on Everest's summit.

Forget these idiots, and I'm sorry for dwelling so long on them. Let's look at the positive. Let's celebrate the life of a real explorer and a real human. Sir Ed never once waivered from his commitment and support of Nepal.

Hillary schools are a beacon of efficiency and offer one of the highest standards of mass education in Nepal. The Sherpa people--most people in the Khumbu--are among the most prosperous in Nepal due to the efforts of Sir Ed's Himalayan Trust. Whenever you are in Kathmandu, give a visit to their offices in Dilli Bazaar. Stop in, say hi to Ang Rita Sherpa, if he's there, and leave a donation. The money will not be wasted. If you can't do that, look up or mail a donation, on Sir Ed's behalf to:

Himalayan Trust
P.O. Box 224
Kathmandu, Nepal

Rest in peace Edmond Hillary. You were and are one of a kind.



At 6:26 AM, January 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said it, BD. A nice tribute.

David B.

At 6:49 PM, January 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo. If all foreign donations were handled with the same efficiency as those given to Hillary, Nepal would well be on its way to prosperity. I have seen the schools you mentioned and they are always well supplied and kept full of qualified teachers...

At 1:31 AM, January 13, 2008, Blogger Heli said...

Hello blogdai!

Do you know that this blog post was published in print, only slightly edited in the January 13 edition of the Popular New Zealand Newspaper, Herald on Sunday today?
So potential viewed my many more New Zealand readers than you might expect.
This was how I knew to visit your blog and thankyou for your post!
I put a brief bio on my blog also but not quite so eloquent Well done.

At 4:16 PM, January 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely said, Blog dai.


At 5:58 PM, August 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I browse blogdai from time to time, but I cam down to this article way too late.

Damn you, Blogdai, this is one of the most elegant tributes to Hillary I've read since his death.



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