Sir Edmund Percival Hillary was born in 1919 at Auckland, in New Zealand. During his youth he was shy and hid himself behind his books and his dreams of adventure. He began to be interested in climbing when he was 16 during a school trip to Mount Ruapehu which is located in New Zealand.
In 1939 he achieved his first big climb when reaching the top of Mount Ollivier, in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. At the beginning of the Second World War he joined the air force and in 1943 he joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as a navigator.
In 1951 he became a member of the British reconnaissance expedition which had as purpose the climbing of Mount Everest. In 1953 he finally reached the top of Mount Everest with Hunt as leader and 399 other people.
They climbed via the Nepal-side and set their first camp in March 1953 and their final camp a few days before reaching the summit. When they set the final camp the climbers had to reach the summit within two or three days otherwise bad weather could force them to descend. The group in which Edmund Hillary took part succeeded in reaching the summit of Mount Everest on 28th May. They spent only 15 minutes on the summit.
Hillary became more and more popular and was made Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1953, he also became a member of the Order of New Zealand in 1987 and a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1995. He also received the Polar Medal due to his participation in the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Nowadays there are also schools, streets and organisations in New Zealand which have taken his name. For example: Hillary College in Otara and Edmund Hillary Primary School in Papakura.
In 1992 Hillary was such an icon for New Zealand that he appeared on the $5 note; thus making him the first New Zealander to appear on a bank note during his life. This is of course against the traditional conventions which normally used portraits of dead icons. In 2003, he became an honorary citizen in Nepal for the 50th anniversary of the climbing of Mount Everest. He was the first foreigner to receive this honorary citizenship. The same year, a statue of Sir Edmund Hillary was erected at Mt Cook village, in New Zealand. He died in January 2008.
Charlotte and Aurora