In this film Sir Edmund Hillary describes the last stages of his successful ascent of Mt Everest with Tenzing Norgay on 29 May 1953, the eve of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.
Hillary’s conquest of Everest turned him into a household name. He was born in Auckland in 1919, and did not discover mountains until he visited Mt Ruapehu on a school trip when he was 16. He became a beekeeper like his father, and when he joined the air force in 1943 he began to climb on his days off. He learned his skills in the Southern Alps, and first visited the Himalayas in 1951. His feats there led to an invitation to join Colonel John Hunt’s Everest expedition in 1953.
In 1956–57 Hillary led the New Zealand section of a British trans-Antarctic expedition, and although merely tasked with setting up supply depots, he beat Vivian Fuchs (who was trekking in from the other side of the continent) to the South Pole.
In the 1960s Hillary returned to the Himalayas to help build schools and health facilities for the sherpas of Nepal. In 1978 he led an expedition up the Ganges River and six years later he became New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India.
Hillary has been honoured by a knighthood, membership of the Order of New Zealand and honorary citizenship of Nepal, and his portrait appears on New Zealand’s five-dollar note.
Video courtesy of Screentime.
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