Edmund Hillary, first man to the top of the world

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Edmund Hillary

MNA Feature Desk: Sir Edmund Hillary, the beekeeper from Auckland who conquered Mount Everest and went on to become one of the greatest adventurers of the 20th century, has died aged 88.

Edmund Hillary, who reached the peak of Everest on May 29 1953, days before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, only admitted being the first man to reach the top of the world’s highest mountain after the death of his climbing companion, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, in 1986.

After scaling the peak, he later told a fellow explorer at base camp: “Well George, we knocked the bastard off.”

A quiet man whose laid-back demeanour seemed at odds with his risky explorations, Hillary led numerous other expeditions over the next two decades, including journeys to the South Pole, six Himalayan ascents, a search for the fabled Yeti and the source of the Yangtze river.

He led the New Zealand section of the Trans-Antarctic expedition from 1955 to 1958 and in 1958 participated in the first mechanised expedition to the South Pole.