Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Climbing legend Sir Edmund Hillary in hospital - AP

By The Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - Mountaineering legend Sir Edmund Hillary, best known for the being the first man to scale Mount Everest, is in a New Zealand hospital.

His wife, Lady June Hillary, said in a statement Tuesday that Hillary was admitted to a hospital after the couple returned from a visit to Nepal's capital, Katmandu, on Sunday, where they had met with Sherpas who now reside in Utah and who hope to make an all-Sherpa attempt on Everest next month.

She said that she was "happy" with her husband's progress, and that he is "in a comfortable position and improves daily."

Hillary, 87, who climbed the world's tallest peak in 1953, is believed to have fallen during the weekend, the New Zealand Herald's Web site said.

It has not been disclosed where the fall occurred, but it was unlikely to have been during any outdoor pursuit. Hillary has been walking with the aid of a cane for several years.
She made no comment on her husband's condition.
He has suffered from altitude sickness in past years.
Other members of the famed climber's family, as well as the
hospital, have declined comment.

Hillary had just visited the Himalayas, when he and Elizabeth Hawley - unofficial chronicler of expeditions in the world's highest mountain range for 40 years - met members of the 2007 "SuperSherpas Expedition" in Nepal's capital, Katmandu.

The Super Sherpas Expedition, led by residents of Utah, hopes to make a historic all-Sherpa attempt on the summit of Everest next month to bring attention to the Sherpa people, who have been a part of every successful attempt on Everest. Many feel their role is under-appreciated.

Hillary's climbing partner when they scaled the world's tallest peak was Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

Hillary met Super Sherpas team members including noted climbers Apa Sherpa and Lhakpa Sherpa, expedition manager Roger Kehr said last week.

"We were unbelievably surprised that Sir Edmund Hillary was there," Kehr said. "We were honored when he said that this may be his last trip to Nepal."

Since first reaching the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit of Everest, Hillary has donated millions of dollars to the Sherpas for building schools, hospitals, clinics, roads and bridges.
He has also helped pay for restoring temples and improving water supplies in the impoverished country.

Earlier this year, he was guest of honor at the opening of new facilities at Scott Base in the Antarctic, after helping construct the original New Zealand base during a 1957 expedition.
Hillary also was the first man to drive a vehicle - an adapted farm tractor - across the frozen continent to South Pole.
He was knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II for his Everest feat.


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