The man credited with conquering Everest for the first time, Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the last of humanity’s great explorers has passed away at the age of 88.
Though it was his ascent of Everest alongside Tensing Norgay in 1953 that earned him his place in the public consciousness and his place in history, Hillary spent the rest of his life in service to the mountain that made his name and the people who live there.
Over many years he and the Himalayan trust built schools and hospitals and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the Sherpa people, and to encourage cultural responsibility and ecological sensitivity among mountaineers.
I can still remember watching the old PBS special about that first ascent as a kid. When my wife and I first went to the pub in North Wales where the team stayed while training for the Everest expedition, I was as star-struck looking at Hillary’s and Norgay’s old boots and axes as I would be looking at the score of Beethoven 9.
Other than music, the mountains were my great passion as a kid, and I still dream of taking a year to prepare and climb Everest- a dream the Hillary gave to millions around the world. Let’s also remember that with the dream comes a responsibility. It is a great gift to stand on any mountain- these are not playgrounds, but sacred places.