Exhibition marks Sir Ed's anniversary
09 Jan 2009
Sir Edmund Hillary’s Everest conquering ice axe will go on display at the Auckland Museum tomorrow (10 January 2009) marking the first anniversary of his death.
The famed mountaineer’s life and death, on 11 January 2008, will also be remembered at Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, where his state funeral was held last year.
Ascent of Everest
The iconic ice axe was used by Hillary on the 1953 ascent of Everest when he and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first men to reach the top of the world’s highest mountain.
Sir Edmund Hillary once said his mountaineering career began with the Alpine Journal route guide in one hand and an ice axe in the other.
During his historic ascent, Hillary determinedly swung this ice axe, cutting a stairway that took him to the pinnacle of the world.
Symbol of triumph
The axe was made by Claudius Simond (Chamonix, France) and purchased before the 1951 New Zealand Himalayan expedition. It has a European ash wood handle and a forged steel head and spike.
Hillary’s ice axe was the most enduring symbol of his triumph, said Auckland Museum director Vanda Vitali.
Donated by Sir Edmund’s widow, Lady June Hillary, the axe forms the centrepiece of an exhibit that also includes still and moving images of the extraordinary climb.
The exhibition will run for a month, after which the axe will go on permanent display in the museum.
At the cathedral, Sir Edmund’s name will be read out as part of church prayers on Sunday morning.
Sir Edmund’s Garter Banner from St George’s Chapel Windsor, Windsor Castle, is now hanging in St Mary’s church.
The banner was an ongoing reminder of Sir Edmund’s achievements, according to the cathedral’s Dean Ross Bay. People continued to visit St Mary’s in order to see the banner and to reflect on Sir Edmund’s life.
Before the state funeral in January 2008, thousands of people queued for hours at the cathedral to pay tribute to Sir Edmund.
Peter Hillary, son of Sir Edmund, said he and his family would be "heading for the hills" for the anniversary. "It will be a nice private family time in an environment that he really loved," Hillary said.
Sir Edmund was survived by his widow, Lady June Hillary; son, Peter and daughter, Sarah Hillary.
Peter Hillary carries on the charitable work in Nepal begun by his father. He spent about a month of the last year helping raise funds, and said he is "very committed to it".
Sir Ed worked tirelessly for the Sherpa people of Nepal, building many schools and hospitals. The Himalayan Trust, the New Zealand foundation that continues this work, is currently funding a programme to raise teaching standards in the schools.
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