ESPN is reporting that Sir Edmund Hillary died today – actually it’s tomorrow in New Zealand – at the age of 88.
Among his many accomplishments, Hillary is considered to be the first man to summit Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Norgay died in 1986.
Read some of the international coverage:
Also News Tribune reporter Ian Demsky – kindly filling in for me while I was testing the powder at Summit Central – got in touch with Port Townsend’s Jim Whittaker, the first American to climb Everest.
Demsky’s short story got buried on our website, so here it is:
Climbing legend Jim Whittaker of Port Townsend scaled Mount Everest 10 years after Sir Edmund Hillary, becoming the first American do to so. Whittaker said Hillary, who died today, was not only an icon – he remained a "perfect gentleman" his whole life.
"When I came off Everest, he was in the next valley building a school for the Nepalese. We met at this little base camp and he congratulated me and so forth," he said.
Whittaker, 78, heard about Hillary’s accomplishment after being drafted into the Army during the Korean War. "I was jealous as hell," he said. "But I’m glad that it was him. He had no ego."
Whittaker talked about what drives men like Hillary and himself.
"You want to see what you can do. You’re testing yourself," he said. "Challenge is the core and mainspring of all human activity. If there’s an ocean, we cross it, a disease we cure it, a wrong we right it, a mountain we climb it."
Ian Demsky, The News Tribune