‘Mt Everest has lost its meaning’… as a mountaineer in whose life Everest means a lot, I’m left thinking what does this actually mean?

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The Summit Ridge of Mt Everest — Photographer Unknown

The photograph above spun around the web last year in a flurry of horror and concern for the apparent apathy of mountaineering and the tragedy of what it means to climb Everest today. I often hear talk of trails of trash up the mountain routes of the Himalaya and Sherpa guides dragging incompetent clients at their behest into the ‘death zone’. …

Late last year my brother George and I began the journey to Mt Everest. As a Hillary, perhaps our whole lives have led to that journey, but in 2019 it became very real.

We were pouring immense effort and time into improving our mountain fitness and skill. I spent a month in the French Alps running steep mountain trails and doing long traverses and by the time we arrived in Kathmandu to begin our Mt Ama Dablam expedition, we felt strong and confident.

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The highest we had climbed in the Himalaya’s before this was 6,200m; a long shot from our ambitions. The plan was to climb peaks building to Everest’s gargantuan height. First Lobuche (6,089m), then Ama Dablam (6,895m) and finally Everest (8,848m) in March 2020. …

15th December 2019

Altitude is a silent killer; if you’re unprepared for the height of your lofty alpine objectives it can knock you down in the most horrible and brutal way. Climbing in the high Himalaya isn’t all about alpine skill or even fitness - it’s about your body’s ability to adjust to and survive altitude.

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Before climbing Ama Dablam (6,895m) we climbed Lobuche Peak. This photo is from High Camp on Lobuche as George looks out towards Ama Dablam, which is just left of centre.

We were standing outside our tents at 4,300m with the incredible breadth of Mt Ama Dablam was standing before us, its huge shoulders reaching out around the basin, the peak soaring above us up to 6,895m. Below the summit sits the Dablam; a hanging glacier above a 1,500m cliff that cascades down to where our tents were pitched. …

25 October 2019

Acclimatizing to the tallest mountain range in the world takes time and preparation. Departing the equatorial and at times tropical Kathmandu comes with an amount of trepidation as we flew to the gateway of the Himalaya; Lukla. After 45 minutes of flying over high passes, the plane dramatically veers right to approach a short and steep runway perched halfway between the valley floor and the mountain above. This runway was one of our grandfathers major projects, providing an avenue to support the building of schools and hospitals in the Khumbu. …

Being able to call the rugged antipodean island of New Zealand home is endlessly rewarding. Between the country’s rugged coastlines and dramatic mountain ranges lies an abundance of impressive landscapes. In early March we escaped for a quick weekend to the sub-alpine tundra of the steep pass between the Rockburn and Routeburn rivers.

Little did we know a band of thieves lay in wait.

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The trail started by winding up through the dense Beech forests of the Routeburn. The cacophony of birds and rapids is absorbed into the heavy weight of the forest.

As the beech thinned and tundra replaced trees, we wound up toward the pass, leaving behind the moss-laden beech forest and its natural orchestra. The pleasant sounds of the trail always set the mind at rest. As we approached the 1200 metre pass the landscape turned Alpine and our ears were only met with the sound of tussock and distant wind. …


Alexander E. Hillary

Adventurer, Photographer, Designer.

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