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with Stefan Nestler

Hillary’s final resting place with Everest view

Hillary Stupa above Khumjung

It is a beautiful place. Located on a hill above Khumjung, off the small path that leads down to the village. With a view to Mount Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. Sir Edmund Hillary would have liked the place. For more than five years, a small part of his ashes has been resting there – in a stupa built in honor of the first ascender of Everest. Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the death of the New Zealander. At the age of 88, Hillary had died on 11 January 2008 in Auckland. Most of his ashes were later scattered on the harbour of his hometown, at the express request of the deceased, as his son Peter Hillary once told me: “The city was the base camp for his expeditions. He was definitely an Aucklander.”

Sir Ed’s words still up to date

Sir Edmund Hillary (in 2004)

I was fortunate enough to meet Sir Ed twice: on the occasion of the opening of a mountaineering exhibition in Austria in 2000 and three years later at the celebrations in Kathmandu on the 50th anniversary of Hillary’s and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay’s first ascent of Everest. “I think that we were the lucky ones. We were pioneers in everything we did and never followed in the footsteps of other people,“ Sir Ed told me at our first meeting, criticizing the commercialization of Everest. “There are people who hardly understand mountaineering. They do not care about the mountain. They have paid $ 65,000 and all they want is to set foot on the summit, go home and boast about it.” His words of that time could as well – with an adjusted sum of money – describe the current situation on the highest mountain in the world.

Himalayan Trust more important than Everest success

New Zealand note with his portrait signed by Sir Ed

Hillary then also had took a small stock of his life: “Over the years, our first ascent of Everest has become less important in people’s minds than what we do with our sherpa friends in the schools and medical facilities. And that’s just how I myself feel about it.” The Hillary Stupa is located not without reason above Khumjung. In 1961, Sir Ed’s still active aid organization “Himalayan Trust” had founded in this village their first school in the Khumbu area.

Statements of Sir Edmund Hillary (in 2000)

Veto of the lamas

It would not have taken much more and Hillary’s ashes would have been scattered on top of Mount Everest. In 2010, Apa Sherpa – who (together with Phurba Tashi) still holds the Everest record with 21 ascents – wanted to take the ashes to the 8850 meter-high summit. The plan failed because of the veto of the lamas. The spiritual Buddhist teachers warned that it was “inauspicious” to scatter ashes at a holy place. This much is certain: The Hillary Stupa above Khumjung is certainly a quieter place than the summit of Mount Everest.


12. January 2018 | 17:08