Sir Edmund Hillary: Conqueror of Everest and Humanitarian Hero

  • Last Updated on May 30, 2024

Sir Edmund Percival Hillary  (20 July 1919 – 11 January 2008) was the champion of both exploration and humanitarian work. He is most famous for his historic ascent of Mount Everest but showed more than just his mountaineering life; he showed his roles as an explorer, diplomat, and philanthropist. Early Life and Mountaineering Beginnings. It was at secondary school that Hillary had an interest in mountaineering. He made his first big climb in 1939 when he reached the top of Mount Ollivier. The events of World War II sidetracked him, as he served as a navigator in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and was injured in an accident. But it did not deter him from loving the mountains.

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Early Life and Mountaineering Beginnings

Hillary's interest in climbing mountains came in his secondary years of schooling in New Zealand. This landed him his first major ascent in 1939 when he scaled Mount Ollivier. It was World War II that derailed him from this course; he became a navigator for the Royal New Zealand Air Force and was injured in an accident. Still, this did not abate his fascination with the mountains.

The Ascent of Mount Everest

On 29 May 1953, Hillary, with Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, did what many had considered quite impossible: they became the first two climbers who were confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. This great feat had been part of the ninth British Everest expedition, which was led by John Hunt. That feat of the duo successfully making it to the top of the mountain was of big proof to human endurance and the spirit of exploration.

Before this historic climb, Hillary honed his skills on other formidable peaks. He joined the British Everest Reconnaissance in 1951 and attempted an assault on Cho Oyu in 1952. All this he did, getting himself battle-hardened, as it were, for the final ascent on Everest.

Beyond Everest: Polar Expeditions and Diplomacy

Hillary's adventures did not end with Everest. In 1958, as part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, he reached the South Pole overland, becoming one of the few to have traversed this icy frontier. He later reached the North Pole, making him the first person to stand at both poles and atop Everest—a trifecta of exploration that solidified his place in history.

From 1985 to 1988, Hillary served as New Zealand's High Commissioner to India and Bangladesh and concurrently as Ambassador to Nepal. His diplomatic roles allowed him to forge stronger ties between New Zealand and these nations, reflecting his deep respect for the cultures and peoples he encountered during his explorations.

Humanitarian Efforts and Legacy

In 1960, Hillary founded the Himalayan Trust, dedicating his efforts to improving the lives of the Sherpa people of Nepal. His humanitarian work led to the construction of numerous schools and hospitals, significantly enhancing the quality of life in the region. Hillary's commitment to giving back to the communities that had supported his expeditions exemplifies his character and generosity.

Honours and Recognition

Hillary's contributions to exploration and humanity were widely recognized. In 1995, he was appointed to the Order of the Garter, one of the highest honours that can be bestowed upon a person. His influence was so profound that Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Upon his death in 2008, New Zealand honoured him with a state funeral, a testament to the deep respect and admiration he garnered throughout his life.


Sir Edmund Hillary's life was marked by incredible achievements in the face of adversity. His ascent of Mount Everest, polar expeditions, and diplomatic service are testaments to his adventurous spirit and determination. However, it is his unwavering dedication to humanitarian efforts that truly cements his legacy. Hillary's life serves as an enduring inspiration, reminding us of the heights humanity can reach through perseverance, compassion, and a commitment to making the world a better place.


Bijay Chaurasia

Bijay Chaurasia

Bijay Chaurasia is a travel photographer who was born and raised in Rajbiraj. Since he was a little child, he has pursued his passion for photography, and he is now continuing his successful journey with a pocket full of passion and determination. Despite his intense passion for photography, he also excels in other areas such as UI/UX design, content creation, media marketing, and so on. He has been actively participating in Wikimedia Commons as a Photographer and Editor in Maithili Wikimedia. He is a versatile individual with various qualities. He has worked for the company since 2015 and is currently a senior manager who has been developing and executing IT rules and best practice guidelines for the business.

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