Sir Edmund Hillary (1919 – 2008) was an explorer and mountain climber. Together with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, he was the first to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Edmund Hillary was born in Auckland, New Zealand on July 20, 1919. He became interested in climbing when he was 16 years old and climbed his first major mountain when he was 20. He continued his love for exploring and climbing mountains in the coming years, scaling many mountains.
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The Everest Expedition
In 1953 the British had received approval to make an attempt at scaling Mount Everest. The government of Nepal would only allow one expedition a year, so this was a big deal. The leader of the expedition, John Hunt, asked Hillary to join in the climb.
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Finally, on May 28, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing got their chance to try for the summit. They ran into some difficulties, including a 40-foot rock wall that is today called ‘Hillary’s Step’, but they made it to the top. They were the first to climb to the top of the world! Because the air was so thin, they only stayed at the top for a few minutes before returning to tell the world of their achievement.
Exploration After Everest
Although Sir Edmund Hillary is mostly famous for being the first to the top of Mount Everest, he continued to climb other mountains and to be a world explorer. He climbed many other peaks in the Himalayas over the next several years.
In 1958 Sir Edmund Hillary took an expedition to the South Pole. His group was the third to ever reach the South Pole over land and the first to do it using motor vehicles.
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Facts about Sir Edmund Hillary
- Hikers are often called “trampers” in New Zealand.
- Sir Edmund was 6 feet 5 inches tall.
- Sir Edmund Hillary was a navigator with the New Zealand Royal Air Force during World War II.
- He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II after reaching the top of Everest. This is why you often see him referred to as “Sir”.
- Mount Everest is 29,029 feet high. It is named after a British general who surveyed India named Sir George Everest. The local name for the mountain is Chomolungma, which means ‘Mother Goddess of the Sky’.
- Sir Edmund Hillary wrote several books about his adventures including High Adventure, No Latitude for Error, and The Crossing of Antarctica.