Sir Edmund Hillary

While I have never known more than him than his record, the news of his death got splashed across broadsheets everywhere and I must confess I was quite intrigued why he was so great as to command half of the front page in many of our newspapers. I then went on to look at his obituaries at some of the newspapers and I was quite inspired. Sample this (from The Hindu):

Success did not breed arrogance. At a time when hierarchies of race and class defined the relationship between sahib and sherpa — few mountaineering accounts even bothered to name the Nepali porters who were critical to their success — Sir Edmund saw fellow climbers as equals. “I held out my hand,” he recorded famously of the moment he stood at the summit of Everest with Tenzing, “and in silence we shook in good Anglo-Saxon fashion. But this was not enough for Tenzing, and impulsively he threw his arm around my shoulders and we thumped each other on the back in mutual congratulations.” Until his comrade’s death in 1986, Sir Edmund refused to settle the debate on who first set foot on the summit of Everest.

Most successful people we hear about today would hardly ever be humble enough to give the same status and respect to a helper. Apart from that, Sir Hillary spent quite a bit of the latter part of his life working for the welfare of the sherpa community in Nepal. No wonder they look upon him as a “second father” and are mourning his death as much as his homeland (source). In fact, for quite sometime after scaling the tallest peak in the world, he officially mentioned his occupation as a “beekeeper” (his father’s business). Not only was he the first person to scale the Everest as well as both the Poles, he was also the President of the NZ Peace Corps. I also found this story very inspiring (source: NYT):

In 1979, Sir Edmund was to have been commentator on an Air New Zealand sightseeing flight over the Antarctic but had to withdraw because of a schedule conflict. His friend and fellow mountaineer Peter Mulgrew took his place. The plane crashed on Mount Erebus, a volcano on Ross Island in McMurdo Sound, and all 257 aboard were killed. Sir Edmund married June Mulgrew, his friend’s widow, in 1989. Besides Lady June, Sir Edmund is survived by his daughter, Sarah, his son, Peter, and six grandchildren.

Sir Edmund surely was a man who lived life on his own terms, he never held a full job (except serving as NZ’s India Ambassador for sometime), and the best part was that he dreamt, and he made his dreams come true:

“The whole world around us lay spread out like a giant relief map,” he told one interviewer. “I am a lucky man. I have had a dream and it has come true, and that is not a thing that happens often to men.”

Aside: Wanna see some confidence and attitude in action? Check out this video:

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