Monday, January 14, 2008

Vale Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary died on Friday 11 January 2008, aged 88. WIth him goes another piece of Everest history. Yet his name will live on for generations - not so much for being one of the first to climb Mount Everest - but for the legacy he has built in the villages that sit in Everest's shadow. Sir Ed's achievement is remarkable because he used his fame to enrich others, not himself. He dedicated 50 years of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal. Setting up the Himalayan Trust, he has worked tirelessly to raise funds to build 26 schools, 2 hospitals, 30 clinics, an airport and many bridges. Scholarships support children and funds assist monks' educations as well as monastery repairs/improvements. The Trust was instrumental in helping rebuild Tengboche Monastery after it was destroyed by fire in 1989.

Trek in the Everest region and it's easy to understand Sir Ed's love affair with the people and the mountains. Most of us leave Nepal with a similar love and admiration for these tough but generous people. Not many of us devote our lives to making theirs better. Sir Edmund Hillary was one of the few that did. In my book, that makes him a real hero.

Standing in front of the statue of Sir Ed at the Sir Edmund Hillary High School in Khumjung, Nepal

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Welcome to 2008

So another year begins. The old one finished in quite a spectacular fashion as a tropical depression took up residence just off the coast, causing near-cyclonic winds and whipping the sea into a frenzy. Torrential rain bucketed down forcing the cancellation of fireworks shows on both the Sunshine and Gold Coasts. Smithy and I were up at the Sunshine Coast to see the new year in with friends. We set up our tent in B's backyard and crossed our fingers that it wouldn't blow down on us.
There were a few moments during the night when we were buffeted by enormous gusts of wind and I thought for sure we'd end up in the Maroochy Canal! But the sand pegs held and we ended up having a very snug and dry night!
We all spent the morning of New Year's Day leisurely sitting around the table on B's back porch enjoying a wonderful cooked breakfast of eggs, sausages (veggie and meat), mushrooms and haloumi and marvelling as squalls of wind and rain kept sweeping over us.
I've never seen weather like this at this time of year, but the born and bred Queenslanders assure me it's typical storm season weather and that every christmas it would be the same - and I thought it was only Melbourne where the weather was miserable at christmas time!
Our next big adventure is only four months away so we're starting to crank up our fitness regime with increased visits to the gym and bushwalking every weekend. We're booked to go on a 30 day trek into the Everest region to commemmorate the 55th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest. Very exciting! I'll be writing more about the trek and our preparations in my other blog