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with Stefan Nestler

Elizabeth Hawley is dead

Miss Hawley in her home in Kathmandu (in 2016)

The legendary chronicler of Himalayan moutaineering has passed away. I am very saddened to announce that after a short battle in hospital, Elizabeth Hawley has left us”, the German journalist and climber Billi Bierling informed. Personally, I cannot put it into words how much this amazing woman has meant to me, how much she has taught me and how much I will miss her in my life.” Elizabeth Hawley was 94 years old when she died. Two years ago, she had handed over the work on her chronicle “Himalayan Database” to Billi.

Never on a high mountain

Miss Hawley had lived in Kathmandu since 1960. At the beginning the American worked for the news agency Reuters. “At that time mountaineering was becoming a very important part of a foreign correspondent’s job in Nepal”, Hawley recalled when I visited her at her home in the capital of Nepal in 2016. From Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the first ascenders of Mount Everest, through to the clients of commercial expeditions – the chronicler had met them all. The highest mountain she herself ever climbed was only about 1,000 meters high, the old lady told me, “in Vermont in New England. It was just a walk. A mountain? No, it was like the hills around Kathmandu.” Nevertheless, again and again the American was able to unmask climbers as liars who previously had claimed to have scaled eight-thousanders or other high mountains in Nepal.

Just a chronicler”


This was the reason for getting nicknames like “Miss Marple of Kathmandu” or “Sherlock Holmes of the mountains”. “Actually I never heard any of them, you can keep them,” Miss Hawley told me: “There was a book and a documentary film about me called ‘keeper of the mountains’. I don’t know that I keep them. I am just a chronicler.”


26. January 2018 | 11:55