September 8, 2009

Sir Edmund Hillary

My Mom passed along this great article before our Everest trek...and honestly, it didn't mean much to me at the time...but now, after meeting so many incredible people in the Khumbu area. I understand why Sir Edmund Hillary dedicated so much of his life to helping this area.
"Hillary and Tenzing were two cheerful and courageous fellows doing what they liked doing, and did, best, and they made an oddly assorted pair. Hillary was tall, lanky, big-boned and long-faced, and he moved with an incongruous grace, rather like a giraffe. He habitually wore on his head a homemade cap with a cotton flap behind, as seen in old movies of the French Foreign Legion. Tenzing was by comparison a Himalayan fashion model: small, neat, rather delicate, brown as a berry, with the confident movements of a cat. Hillary grinned; Tenzing smiled. Hillary guffawed; Tenzing chuckled. Neither of them seemed particularly perturbed by anything; on the other hand, neither went in for unnecessary bravado. 
Both, of course, were showered with worldly honors, and accepted them with aplomb. Both became the most celebrated citizens of their respective countries and went around the world on their behalf. But both devoted much of their lives to the happiness of an archetypically unprivileged segment of mankind: the Sherpas, Tenzing's people, true natives of the Everest region. Tenzing, who died in 1986, became their charismatic champion and a living model of their potential. Grand old Ed Hillary,...spent years in their country supervising the building of airfields, schools and hospitals and making the Sherpas' existence better known to the world. Thus the two of them rose above celebrity to stand up for the unluckier third of humanity, who generally cannot spare the time or energy, let alone the money, to mess around in mountains. 
I liked these men very much when I first met them on the mountain,...but I came to admire them far more in the years that followed. I thought their brand of heroism--the heroism of example, the heroism of debts repaid and causes sustained--far more inspiring than the gung-ho kind. Did it really mean much to the human race when Everest was conquered for the first time? Only because there became attached to the memory of the exploit, in the years that followed, a reputation for decency, kindness and stylish simplicity."-Jan Morris, Time Magazine, June 14, 1999
"For me the most rewarding moments have not always been the great moments, for what can surpass a tear on your departure, joy on your return, or a trusting hand in yours?" -Sir Edmund Hillary