Sir Edmund Percival Hillary was born on July 20th 1919 in Auckland, NZ.
A famous mountaineer, explorer, author and humanitarian. With a 6 ft 5" towering frame, a shy and quiet Hillary took more of an interest in the great outdoors and in particular climbing, from a young age than he did in school and college. Fuelled by reading books on his mammoth daily two hour train journeys to and from school.
Hillary worked as a beekeeper in the summer months, allowing the colder months to pursue climbing. His first major climb coming in 1939 reaching the summit of Mount Ollivier, in the Southern Alps.
During the Second World War Hillary joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force and served as a Navigator on the flying boats in both Fiji and The Solomon Islands during the Pacific conflict.
Having been injured in a boating accident, he returned to his native New Zealand.
Participating in several expeditions, Hillary scaled New Zealand's highest peak of Aoraki/Mount Cook in 1948. But it was in 1953 where Hillary was to become a famous name.
As a member of John Hunt’s British Mount Everest Expedition, Hillary reached the summit of Mt. Everest with fellow mountaineer and long time acquaintance (Sherpa) Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
For this he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. They were the first people to reach the summit on the Nepal-Tibet border. A complex climb was made even more difficult with political restrictions from the Chinese control of Tibet, leading to Nepal allowing just one expedition per calendar year.
The Hunt expedition totalled up to four hundred people, including more than three hundred porters, twenty Sherpa guides and thousands of pounds worth of baggage, setting up base camp in March '53 this was to be a huge team effort.
Hillary and Norgay reached the roof of the world at 11:30 local time after a gruelling climb up the Southern face. after many failed expeditions and tragedies before them.
Mr Hillary described the peak, which is 29,028 feet (8,847 m) above sea level, as "a symmetrical, beautiful snow cone summit" with climbing pal Sherpa Tenzing burying sweets and biscuits in the snow as a Buddhist offering to the gods. Hillary took the famous photograph of Tenzing holding his ice axe aloft at the summit. "Well, George, we knocked the bastard off." - Hillary's first words to lifelong friend George Lowe on returning from Everest's summit.
Hillary and Tenzing in 1953.
Hillary through the years.
Cutting a swagger in various seasonal get-ups.
With Tenzing and wearing a Powderhorn parka, late 70's, Right: under the cold sun 50's.
Recognition for the cult and unintentional style icon Hillary came in many guises. British designer and long time collector of original authentic garments, Nigel Cabourn reconstructed a replica of Hillary's 1953 Everest Parka first released in 2003.
Cabourn himself flying out to Hillary's New Zealand home to photograph the original coat.
Hillary set in stone, a statue facing Mount Cook, one of his personal favourite peaks.
And a magazine advert showing Hillary endorsing Rolex watches.
After the famed Everest exploits, Hillary climbed ten other peaks in the Himalayas on further visits in 1956, 1960–61, and 1963–65. He also reached the South Pole as part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, for which he led the New Zealand section, on 4 January 1958. His party was the first to reach the Pole overland since Amundsen in 1911 and Scott in 1912, and the first ever to do so using motor vehicles.
In 1985 he accompanied Neil Armstrong in a small twin-engined ski plane over the Arctic Ocean and landed at the North Pole. He thus became the first man to stand at both poles and on the summit of Everest.
Awards: Hillary was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) on 6 June 1953 member of the Order of New Zealand (ONZ) in 1987; and Knight of the Order of the Garter (KG) on 22 April 1995. He was also awarded the Polar Medal for his part in the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
Humanitarian work: Following his ascent of Everest he devoted much of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he founded. Through his efforts many schools and hospitals were built in this remote region of the Himalayas. He was the Honorary President of the American Himalayan Foundation, a United States non-profit body that helps improve the ecology and living conditions in the Himalayas. He was also the Honorary President of Mountain Wilderness, an international NGO dedicated to the worldwide protection of mountains .
Hillary passed away in January 2008, he was granted a state funeral.
Part source wikipedia