Wellington, May 29 (IANS) Edmund Hillary was not only a mountain climber, he was a humanitarian as well. This was the main focus of two exhibitions that opened in New Zealand Wednesday, marking the 60th anniversary of the historic climb to the top of Mount Everest by Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.
On May 29, 1953, Hillary, a New Zealander, and Tenzing reached the summit of the world’s highest mountain peak. Travelling as part of a British expedition, they were the first climbers ever to reach the 8,850-metre summit.
A high-tech exhibition honouring the ascent is on display at Auckland Museum. The route of the climb is the main feature of the exhibition, Xinhua reported.
“I think it’s so effective – the climb, the mountain, the old images, and then of course what dad’s life became after climbing the peak — with schools, and hospitals, that really was the great love of his life,” said Hillary’s son Peter Hillary.
Over 40 years, Sir Edmund Hillary built 27 schools, two hospitals and many bridges.
“He didn’t have to do this, he could have sat back after climbing the mountain. But he didn’t, and the friends that he gathered are still doing the good work,” said exhibition developer Janneen Love.
A piece of summit rock, Hillary’s ice axe, and the diary he carried with him on his journey to the Everest are also on display at the museum.
The exhibition creator hopes viewers get to know not only Hillary the climber, but Sir Ed, the humanitarian as well.
“I want them to think about his legacy and what he’s left in Nepal and maybe they can engage with it for themselves and think about what their own mountain is to conquer,” Love said.
Another exhibition, titled the Hillary Collection, in Otago Museum in the South Island city of Dunedin, also opened to the public to mark the 60th anniversary of the historic summit.
The Hillary Collection, gifted by Lady Hillary, and Hillary’s children Peter Hillary and Sarah Hillary, celebrates the life and achievements of the world-renowned New Zealander.
Sir Edmund and Tenzing were only able to spend around 15 minutes at the summit before beginning their descent as their oxygen was running low. During that time, Hillary took his famous photographs of Tenzing holding the fluttering flags, as well as photographing the ridges leading away from the summit.
Hillary’s iconic images, captured using a second-hand 1935 Kodak Retina camera, have been seen in publications around the world.
On the way down from the summit, Hillary put a handful of small stones in his pocket to keep as mementos of his incredible experience, some of which can also be seen at the Otago Museum.
Later, his mother kept one of the rocks in a silver locket alongside a note signed by Hillary.
Simple enamel mugs were issued to the members of the 1953 expedition team, led by Britain’s Col. John Hunt. Hillary’s mug is also part of the Otago Museum’s Hillary Collection.