Nepali Times Asian Paints
"I’m glad I don’t have to climb Mt Everest all over again."

Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Mt Everest by him and the late Tenzing Norgay. Nepali Times caught up with Sir Ed for a short chat.

Nepali Times: The year 2003 is the 50th anniversary of your climb of Mt Everest. How are you planning to mark the event?
Edmund Hillary
: Certainly, my wife and I plan to be here on May 29, 2003 which is the day that we reached the summit of Mt Everest. They tried to persuade us to be in the UK at that time, and in New Zealand and so on. But we decided to be in Nepal when it all happens. I'm looking forward to seeing many good mountaineering friends both here in Nepal and also in the United Kingdom. So, it should be a very happy and cheerful occasion.

Is there any special reason for this particular visit?
This is the normal time of the year that we come to Nepal. This is a very special occasion for us. We are largely handing over the administration of our many projects to a very good Sherpa committee and they will have the responsibility of spending the money and carrying out the projects. We will still try and raise money, but the administration will be handed over to a very good and respected friend among the Sherpa community.

What will your role be?
My constant efforts these days is the raising of funds for various projects in Solukhumbu, for the hospital, schools, the teacher training programs, and many other things. And I hope to keep doing that as long as I'm able. I'm now 82-years-old so I'm not quite as energetic as I used to be but I still travel around the world.

Nepal recently opened up numerous new peaks for climbing.
I think it is a very good idea to open up new areas. They may not be the highest peaks in the word, but many of them are formidable mountains and give great challenges for the young, enthusiastic mountaineers. And, I think, probably they are a benefit, financially, to Nepal itself.

An international mountain museum is being constructed in Pokhara. The inauguration is planned for 2003. What do you think of the idea?
Well it's a big job, a lot of effort has gone into it. I'm sure many tourists will enjoy visiting the museum and seeing what is being carried out. Unfortunately, I can't be there for the inauguration.

Can visitors expect any of your mountain memorabilia on display?
It's very difficult. My memorabilia is mostly in museums in various parts of the world and I really have very little left myself to give. But I will see, anyway.

But you have given a lot to Nepal, to the Khumbu region, to your Sherpa friends.
We've put a lot of energy into school, medical clinics, in assisting with the monasteries and various other things. And this has given us great satisfaction.

In February the Maoists attacked the Lukla airport which you originally built. How did you react to the news?
The Maoist problem is a big one, we know, in Nepal. I personally think it is very unfortunate and hope the whole matter clears up as soon as possible.

Many foreign missions have advised their nationals that Nepal is not a safe destination. What do you tell fellow New Zealanders?
I'd tell New Zealanders back home to be sensible, but no tourists so far have been affected by the problems here. And I would certainly encourage them to come here to see the beauty, to know the people, and, just treat everything with good common sense.

Your son Peter is climbing Everest again this spring in commemoration of your historic climb fifty years ago. What did you tell him?
He told me he was climbing this year. I was happy and wished him the best. I'm glad for me that it is over for me, and that I don't have climb it all over again.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)