-  Friday 23 March 2018

Nepal Sherpas mourn Hillary's death

 -  AFP

Jan 11 2008, Kathmandu - Nepal's Sherpas community was plunged into mourning Friday over the death of Sir Edmund Hillary, a "second father" to a people whose sacred peak Everest he became the first man to conquer in 1953.

The gritty mountain community said the larger-than-life New Zealander will be best remembered for his promotion of Nepal as well as his efforts to give something back to the impoverished villages nestled in the mountains.

"We consider him as a second father," said Zimba Zangbu Sherpa, the vice president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

"We are planning a memorial and thinking about a statue in the mountaineering park," said Sherpa, who attended one of the first schools set up by Hillary in the Solokhumbu region in Everest's foothills.

The Himalayan country's tourism minister said Hillary's death was a huge loss for Nepal.

"We have lost a dear friend of Nepal and a worldwide hero," Prithvi Subba Gurung, Nepal's Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation told AFP.

"He was an undeclared ambassador for Nepal. When Nepal was going through conflict, he still came and continued to promote Nepal," Gurung said, referring to the decade-long civil war with Maoist rebels that ended in late 2006.

Elizabeth Hawley, a legendary Himalayan chronicler and executive officer for Hillary's Himalayan Trust, said his affection for the Sherpas stemmed from his historic 1953 ascent with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who died in 1986.

Hillary and the Sherpas "took a tremendous liking to each other, and when he came back in 1954 he met with the Sherpas and they asked him to help build a school," said Hawley.

"He was a very practical man, so he would just get it done," she said.

After his ascent of the 8,848-metre (29,028-foot) mountain, Hillary continued to visit Nepal almost every year.

"His work changed the life of the whole Sherpa community. Without his work, especially the schools, the Sherpas would be nowhere," the vice president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association told AFP.

Hillary's trust built schools and hospitals, and trained health workers in the harsh, mountainous region. He also helped build an airstrip to promote tourism.

"The work that he has done through the Himalayan Trust will continue and we will go on as before," said Hawley.
Source : AFP  

Other articles by reporter AFP

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