My dream is to climb Everest, says Hillary’s granddaughter

May 18th, 2008 - 7:47 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 18 (IANS) Her grandfather Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to conquer Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world, with Tenzing Norgay Sherpa more than five decades ago. Inspired by the feat, her father, Hillary’s son Peter Hillary, too ascended the 8,848m summit.

Now the third generation of the New Zealander Hillarys, whose name has become synonymous with the world’s best loved mountain, says her dream is to reach the top of the peak in the footsteps of her grandfather and father.

“The attempt can cost one one’s life but it is my dream to climb Mt Everest,” says Amelia Rose Hillary, the 18-year-old granddaughter of Sir Edmund.

Amelia arrived in Nepal May to keep up an old family tradition.

Since his ascent of Mt Everest on May 29, 1953, Hillary had been coming to Nepal regularly in the same month to found schools and health centres for his beloved Sherpa community in northern Solukhumbu district, lying in the foothills of the Himalayan ranges.

After Hillary’s death this year, there were some fears whether the Himalayan Trust set up by the late legend would continue its mission in Nepal.

“To give continuity to Hillary’s work, they have to be extended to other parts of Nepal as well,” says Amelia, who came this month to keep the tradition alive. “This is the biggest challenge and responsibility for the Hillary family.”

The petite blonde, who is a freshman at an Australian university, studying politics and history, has also been an ambassador of the Australian Himalayan Foundation.

After fundraising in Paris, she plans to scout for assistance in the Middle East.

“There are many mountain lovers in the Middle East,” Amelia told a local daily. “I am looking at setting up trusts in the region, especially in places like Qatar and Dubai, to create a network of the social work that Hillary undertook.”

Familiar with the name of Mt Everest as a toddler, Amelia first came to Nepal in 2003, during the golden jubilee of the first ascent, when with her father she reached up to the Everest base camp.

The previous year, she had been to the base camp from Tibet, taking advantage of the motorable road built by the Chinese.

She would be visiting Hillary’s beloved Khumbu area among the mountains to familiarise herself with the school and health centre started by her grandfather there.

Soon after her arrival in the capital, she visited an orphanage and says she is mulling finding scholarships.

Describing her grandfather as a resolute and warm-hearted man who took pleasure in helping others, she said she had talked to him last Christmas, when he praised the Nepalis, especially the Sherpas.

“They can smile even under the greatest sorrow and suffering,” Hillary had told her.

She also remembered his concern at the effect of global warming and worldwide weather changes on his beloved mountains and his efforts at conservation.

Amelia proved to be her grandfather’s granddaughter, echoing the same concerns about summitting Mt Everest that he had in Kathmandu in 2003, when he was honoured with honorary citizenship by the government of Nepal during the golden jubilee celebrations.

“Descending safely is as important as summitting,” she said, echoing her grandfather’s words of caution. “A little mistake can cause death.”

From this year, Nepal’s government has announced it would observe the date of the first ascent - May 29 - as Everest Day.

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