Enervating celebrations tire Hillary at 83
A visibly tired Sir Edmund Hillary, confined to a wheelchair, arrived in Nepal on Friday to be the guest of honour on the 50th anniversary of his conquest with Tenzing Norgay Sherpa of Mount Everest.Updated: May 28, 2003 11:54 IST
A visibly tired Sir Edmund Hillary, confined to a wheelchair, arrived in Nepal on Friday to be the guest of honour on the 50th anniversary of his conquest with TenzingNorgaySherpa of Mount Everest.
The New Zealander, now 83, was met by a barrage of reporters as his wife and he arrived by a Thai Airways plane in Kathmandu, where he will be feted in marathon celebrations marking his May 29, 1953 ascent to the world's highest peak.
An assistant to Hillary said the climber was already tired after two days of ceremonies in his honour in neighbouring India and in Thailand, adding he was ill from drinking bad water.
"No, I'm not feeling well," Hillary said on arrival. "But I'm happy to be back in Kathmandu."
While Hillary had appeared in good health in India, he has been medically evacuated twice before out of Nepal.
The famed climber was driven immediately after arrival in Kathmandu to the office of the Hillary Himalayan Trust, a charity he founded to help the Sherpas, a Nepalese mountain people who are the often forgotten keys to success in climbing expeditions.
One of them, TenzingNorgaySherpa, climbed with Hillary on the historic expedition 50 years ago. He died of natural causes in 1986.
Hillary has raised money through the lecture circuit to fund projects aimed at aiding the Sherpas, including a school for Sherpa children and a hospital in the Mount Everest region.
Some 15,000 Sherpas work in the mountaineering industry, holding jobs ranging from cooks and kitchen staff to porters and high-altitude guides.
Nepal, which is heavily promoting the Everest golden jubilee, is due to give Hillary an honorary citizenship. All successful climbers of the 8,848-metre (29,028 feet) peak will be awarded special medals by King Gyanendra.
First Published: May 27, 2003 17:22 IST