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Hillary On Everest -

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TRADITIONAL MUSIC

Sir Edmund Hillary A helicopter flies of eastern Nepal. deep into the hills on the trail to Everest. Phaphlu, a hill town the big man Everyone turns out to greet they call Baba Sahib. every year Hillary returns to these mountains to supervise the spending with his wife, June, they have raised in the west. of aid money a little sit down. Soon I'm gonna have OK. is something of a God - Up here, Hillary distinctly mortal. even if the altitude renders him I'm OK in Auckland. THEME MUSIC

BELL RINGS in New Zealand in 1919. Edmund Hillary is born in 1931. I first came to Auckland Grammar a frightening experience. I found coming to Auckland Grammar and small for his age. He is 11 years old In a country where men are men, what is good for them, and if boys know they are men, too.

physical labour By 15, toughened by hard on his father's honey farm, six feet, Hillary towers well over his physical abilities, at least. and is confident in Hillary's father In his final year at school, to a class trip grudgingly consents in the centre of the North Island. to the volcanic plateau

I ever saw snow. That's the first time around the mountains. And I skied and clambered marvellous experience And it was undoubtedly the most

I'd ever had. of Mount Ruapehu, Here, on the modest slopes passion are sewn. the seeds of an all-consuming the first climb I actually did Well, funnily enough up there. was up that little gully

of snow up in it. There was a little bit that dragged me And there was some attraction up over the gravel, stand on the snow itself. and finally, amazing, It really was quite what a sense of achievement I had. Hermitage Hotel, That night, in the nearby this triumph Hillary is savouring and are quickly when two climbers stride in of all the pretty girls. the centre of attention This was Stevenson and Dick, of Mount Cook. who had just done a grand traverse and surrounding them, And everybody was talking to them in a corner, and I sort of slunk away uninteresting life I was leading. and thought what a miserable when he isn't beekeeping Over the next few years, he's in the Southern Alps, with his brother, in preparation for Mount Cook. honing his climbing skills onto the summit 1947, Hillary steps

for the first time. of New Zealand's highest peak year to attempt He returns the following south ridge of Cook. the daunting unclimbed every climbing challenge Having dealt with just about Hillary's ready for bigger things. New Zealand has to offer, George Lowe. So is another young climber, who eventually becomes The gregarious teacher

in Britain an inspector of schools for the shy beekeeper. is the perfect foil when they run into each other They both sense this Mount Cook. on this glacier below

said to me, And it was then that George of going to the Himalayas?" "Ed, have you ever thought it's funny you should mention that, And I said, "Well, ideas and dreams "but I've often had "of going there." And to say that out loud because, you know, was a very bold thing to do, to go to the Himalayas. New Zealanders weren't good enough July 11th, 1951. start up The New Zealand expedition Mount Mukut Parbat. the 23,700 foot unclimbed learns a harsh lesson This is the day Hillary the way he climbs mountains. that changes forever Hillary and Lowe lead, well ahead expecting to reach the summit companions. of their less robust travelling a good deal faster. George and I were actually in the morning, But it was very early And both George and I and very cold. footwear. had very, very inadequate And George said, you know, and warm up his feet. he'd simply have to stop we passed them, So while they sat there, and down into a depression. climbed over the ridge, about all this. We were very naive until we were ready to carry on. We thought they would wait

regarded ourselves Because we definitely in the group. as the leading pair a rounded spur, And we came up onto

the long ridge, and looked down onto of Mukut Parbat. leading up towards the summit was in the lead And by then, Earl Riddiford on this narrow ridge. And he was cutting steps. was no way And we knew there up to them, that if we caught to let us go through, that Earl was going and do the leading. they were going to get very far. And quite frankly, we didn't think returned to camp, Hillary and Lowe while Riddiford, Cotter, and the sherpa Pasang

press on towards the summit in rising winds and fading light. Finally darkness came

and there was no sign of them, and then I can remember

emerging from our tent and I suddenly heard voices. And it was the group returning back to us. And they were triumphant. I was snow-blind. We must have been terrifically dehydrated. We couldn't eat any of the food Ed had prepared. And so we all just collapsed into bed. Well, I was very disappointed, because I felt we'd made a serious error of judgement. If we had carried on,

as we well could have done,

well, there would have been no doubt that George and I would also have reached the summit of Mukut Parbat. On the trail out, Hillary broods over this failure.

Riddiford's success demonstrates that tremendous will alone can override physical limitations, and that every opportunity has to be ruthlessly exploited. Angry with himself, Hillary just wants

to get home as fast as he can. But waiting for the New Zealanders in the hill town of Ranikhet is an extraordinary invitation from climbing legend Eric Shipton, who is leading a British reconnaissance expedition to the unexplored south-west face of Everest. Traditionally, Everest had always been attempted from the north - the Tibetan side.

Seven times the British had tried to scale it, and seven times they'd failed. In 1950, the Chinese invasion of Tibet closes off the northern route, forcing climbers to look to Nepal.

Shipton is keen to see what lies behind the massive Lhotse Wall, guarding Everest's southern flanks. He rates the chances of finding a new route to the summit behind this wall as 30-1 against.

But Shipton's opportunity-of-a-lifetime invitation is for only two New Zealanders to join his team. The excitement... faded within moments when we realised that only two of us were going. Well, I was feeling considerable senses of guilt about leaving my brothers to look after the bees

while I was playing around in the Himalayas. Ed Cotter very quickly realised that this

was going to be a very destructive talk. And so he said, "Well, I haven't got the money, "and I...really, I'm not going to get into this battle. "So I'm not going." Well, I changed my mind very quickly. I decided that the bees would have to wait. And I don't think, really, there was any debate about the fact that I was certainly the fittest member of the group.

Very sadly, turned out to be a clash between myself and Earle Riddiford. But I was on leave without pay, as a schoolteacher, and I had no resources to back me up. Knowing his decision to stay on in the Himalayas would greatly inconvenience his father and brother, Hillary sends the following telegram - "Invited Shipton Everest expedition. "Could not refuse. "Please forgive erring son."

Hillary is consumed with guilt, but there is no turning back. Not now that he has Everest in his sights. Shipton is impressed by the lanky New Zealander's

determination and strength. He later writes that Hillary is the best high-altitude prospect he's seen in years. On the trail to the hill town of Nan Chi, Hillary sees Everest for the very first time. 20 miles distant, it dominates the head of the valley, like it has dominated his thoughts and dreams. The expedition pushes on eagerly,

to the Khumbu Glacier at the foot of the Everest massif. We realised we would have to climb up this ridge on Pumori, opposite the western coomb,

in order to see whether or not it was accessible up that side of the mountain. When we climbed up to 20,000 feet, we could look right up the ice wall into the western coomb. It looked to me as though there was not an easy route, but at least a route. There was potential. The icefall looked pretty horrifying. We called one area 'the rickety innards'. Because if you knocked a chunk of ice off, and it fell down a crevasse, the whole area would all shake and shiver.

Shipton opts to return next spring, when the snow will be more stable. The mood is relaxed on the trail to Kathmandu. But news of a possible route to the summit has made the front pages in Zurich, as well as in London. The Swiss have applied for and been granted exclusive access to Everest in 1952. And Hillary's dreams come tumbling down. We had regarded, as, of course, did people in Britain, that Everest was sort of a British mountain, as it were. In 1952, while the Swiss attempt Everest, Shipton has to settle for a training run on nearby Mount Cho Oyu. At Hillary's instigation, Shipton includes George Lowe in the party - New Zealand's best climbing pair is together again. Alarmed by rumours that the Swiss have got to the top, Hillary and Lowe set off on the 70-mile circumnavigation of Everest that brings them back to the base camp recently abandoned by the Swiss. Ed put his hand in the fire, and it was still warm. So we started belting down the valley at high speed. At the bottom of the glacier, we came to a sherpa. And we tried to question him, whether or not the Swiss had been successful. Physically, we said, "Have they got to the top?" And he put his thumb up, and he put his thumb down, and he said, "Top, no. "Shoulder, yes." It was a great moment for us. Even though we wished the Swiss no harm at all. I must say, we were naughty. We said, "Hooray!" (Laughs) And they'd really put in a very good assault on the mountain. The fact remained that the mountain was still unclimbed.

But only just. Raymond Lambert, and the sherpa Tenzing, a name that would soon be linked to Hillary's forever, turned back frozen and exhausted only 800 feet below the summit. A second Swiss attempt in the autumn also fails, leaving Tenzing so ill he has to be hospitalised. In 1953, Hillary still has a chance to conquer Everest.

But time is running out. He writes to his mother, "I'll be 33 years old tomorrow. "I suppose I should be thinking of settling down "and becoming steady and staid. "As long as I can make enough money "to pay my expenses, I think I may as well "continue my climbing career. "It's probably the only thing I do really well." Meanwhile, back in London,

uneasy after seven previous failures on Everest, The Himalayan Committee of the Royal Geographical Society decides that a much larger, more ruthless expedition needs to be mounted. Shipton will not lead it. They decided to replace Eric with someone I had never heard of, John Hunt. I read that John Hunt had been to the Himalayas, that he climbed in the European Alps. He was a very senior army officer, which immediately I had grave doubts about. I felt very strongly that if Eric was not put back in the job as leader, I was quite happy to resign.

Whether Hillary really would have abandoned his life's ambition is made academic when Shipton writes to him, urging him to support the new leader. Shipton also urges Hunt to include Hillary and Lowe in the British team, but the new leader has other plans. I was very, very keen to have seen

and worked with, climbed with, everybody before we went. And that was clearly not going to be possible in the case of Ed and George, down under. Hunt's decision does not find favour with key Britons in his intended team -

Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans, who have climbed with Hillary and Lowe in the Himalayas. They said, "If you don't take these two New Zealanders, "we're going to fail. "We do not know a great deal about super icefalls, "and the New Zealanders do. "If you don't take these two New Zealanders, "we're not going." Faced with this revolt, Hunt relents,

and the two New Zealanders are bound for Nepal. April 10th, 1953. The expedition, with 350 porters and 20 tons of equipment, sets off on the 270-mile trek to Everest. This is Hillary's third time over these trails. As they approach their goal, the man long dogged by feelings of inadequacy, is increasingly convinced that this time

he will make it to the top. Beneath Everest, at the entrance to the Khumbu Icefall, John Hunt entrusts Hillary with the task of establishing base camp. The plan is simple. Starting with 15 tons of supplies at the bottom, via a series of camps, 900 pounds are to be delivered to within striking distance of the top, at camp 8, on the south col. If needed, camp 9 will be sited high on the south-east ridge. All this has to be achieved in six weeks, before the monsoon arrives and forces them off the mountain. 22 bodies from previous attempts lie buried on the mountain. No place is more treacherous than the icefall. Hunt asks Hillary to force the route up through it. I asked John if George could join me. I think he was a little bit reluctant, actually, because we'd been climbing at high altitude for several years. I don't think there was any question

that George and I were amongst the fittest in the whole party. I also don't think there's any doubt that I, personally, was the fittest member. He stood out in that fairly early stage

as being somebody whom I would expect to succeed. Enormously competent as an iceman, an ice climber. The strongest among us. After Hillary's team establishes camp 3 above the icefall, Hunt decides that Lowe's icecraft is needed for other tasks, and the two New Zealanders are separated. When it became clear to me that I wasn't going to be allowed to climb with George Lowe, I really looked around for someone who would be of equal fitness to myself. And the most likely person seemed to be Tenzing, who'd already been high on the mountain,

certainly was very well acclimatised, and had all the motivation in the world. It was still the ambition of each member of the party for it to be them to finally step on top. So I always felt it was necessary to keep the fact that I was one of the fit ones well in front of John Hunt. Hillary suggests that he and Tenzing tackle a trip from base camp up to Camp III and back in the same day - an almost impossible feat. Hunt consents, and they head off. On the way down, in fading light, they come to a crevasse bridged by a narrow slab of ice. Well, I came charging down the mountain, with Tenzing roped up behind.

And then just jumped in the air, and landed with both my feet on the chunk of ice. Whereupon the chunk of ice broke off. And dropped into a crevasse with me on top of it. And then the chunk of ice started to roll over, and I realised that if I wasn't careful, I was going to be crushed between the chunk of ice and the wall of the crevasse. So I can remember sort of flexing my knees and jumping in the air. And then we both carried on falling. But I was two or three feet clear of the chunk of ice. Well then, you know, time passed. But I started realising, if the rope didn't come tight pretty soon, I was going to come to a pretty stick end at the bottom of the crevasse. And at that moment, up top, Tenzing thrust his ice axe into the snow, whipped the rope around it in a good belay, the rope came tight with a twang, and I came to a sudden halt and swung against the ice wall. And the chunk of ice carried on, and smashed to smithereens at the bottom of the crevasse. By May 10th, it is time to force a route up the 4,000-foot Lhotse face, and dump supplies on the south col in readiness for the final assault. But first, John Hunt has to make the most difficult decision of the expedition. Who will be in the assault teams going for the top? The youngest climber in the expedition, George Band, concedes that some in the party were coy

when it came to self-promotion. The English-British side are brought up in their public-school tradition,

of perhaps not pushing for the job, but waiting to be asked, courteously. (Laughs) "I think, my dear chap, that you're the fellow

"that we really need for this position." Whereas our two antipodean friends were more used to saying, "Well, my God, "if everyone else is standing back, "I'm going to do this phase of the operation."

Well, I must admit I suggested to John Hunt that George and I be in the summit team. But he wasn't particularly enthusiastic about that. I knew quite well that it wasn't going to be exactly what everyone wanted. But I had told everyone, and not only once, while we were in London, but at various intervals, that this was to be a team effort,

and it really mustn't be too much a personal ambition, for everyone to hope to get to the... ..to be in the final team. Hunt announces that the first assault team will be Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans. Hillary and Tenzing will be the second assault team. It was quite clear that the most likely team to succeed

were Ed Hillary and Tenzing. And I was particularly keen, incidentally, that a sherpa who wanted to go to the top, and Tenzing himself, in particular, should do so. So they made the pair on whom I was mainly counting. Both teams, however, prepare for triumph, wrapping flags around the shafts of their ice axes. We regarded ourselves as the final assault team. I was pretty confident that they'd get to the south summit. But I was not really confident that they would get from that to the top. Hillary becomes frustrated about his own chances when the assault on the towering Lhotse face, led by George Lowe, takes 10 days instead of the expected three. The larger part of the time I was there with one sherpa. Well, that's a bit dicey. So we did not get to the south col, which we were aiming to do. It was, in fact, a failure on Everest. It's been smoothed over. With the monsoon fast approaching, the expedition grinds to a halt.

I was very anxious. And no doubt I showed signs of strain. Because I could see the possibility we might even not reach the south col. Which would have been disastrous. Hunt decides the load carry must commence, even though the route is yet to be forced. Wilf Noyce and a party of fully laden sherpas are dispatched to camp VII with instructions to push on to the south col the next day, no matter what. May 21st dawns with everyone below anxiously scanning the upper slopes. Only two figures - Noyce and a sherpa - are seen leaving camp VII. Exhausted and demoralised, the other sherpas have refused to go any higher. It was at that stage I decided to take what could have been a fatal decision - to ask Ed Hillary and Tenzing to go up and see what was going on. Well, Tenzing played a very important part in getting some of the more reluctant sherpas to carry on from camp VII

up to the south col. He was an inspiration to the sherpas, of course. And anyway, he more or less ordered them, they had to go on, and the majority of them did so. As a matter of fact, I wanted them just to give them a push, so to speak. A mental push. Or a moral push. And to spare themselves going up to the col themselves. Because they were destined for the summit,

and the second attempt, and it was quite obvious that they'd be taking an enormous amount

out of themselves doing just that. In fact, being Ed, and Tenzing, too, they led the sherpa teams, the two of them, right up to the south col. The first major carry, which was supported

by Tenzing and myself, got the loads up onto the south col. And that was the major turning point in the whole expedition. With 17 loads dumped on the south col, Bourdillon and Evans head up to camp VIII, from where they will launch their assault on the south summit. From there, if they have sufficient oxygen and daylight left, they will mount a second offensive on the main summit itself. If Bourdillon and Evans fail,

it will be Hillary and Tenzing's turn. We could actually see Evans and Bourdillon making their way up the upper part of the south-east ridge. And then a cloud blew in, and blotted them from sight.

And we really had the feeling that, maybe, they would be able to carry on towards the summit. I was really quite pleased about this as I had a very close relationship with Charles Evans and Tom Bourdillon. But Tenzing was not so. Tenzing was rather disappointed. Tenzing really wanted to be one of the first people to stand on top of the mountain. After six gruelling hours, Bourdillon and Evans reach the south summit.

Looming overhead is mountaneering's greatest prize - five hours away, there and back. Charles Evans, the senior member of the party, decided that if they went along the ridge, it was very unlikely that they would ever return. Tom was disappointed. He was ready to throw the dice and say, "I'd like to risk it." And Charles Evans said to him,

"You won't see Jennifer again, Tom." In other words, "The chances of us dying "are very high." We went up and met them, and brought them back into camp. But every 10 or 20 feet, they had to sit down and rest and then we had to help them up again, into the tent. Despite having climbed higher than any two men in history,

there is no disguising their disappointment. Charles, who was really a very positive person, said to me "Ed, I don't think you'll make it "along the summit ridge. It's very difficult." Tenzing calls the wind "the roar of a thousand tigers." The night of May 27th is the worst any of them has ever experienced on a mountain. Rest, let alone sleep, is impossible. They are in the death zone. There is 75% less oxygen here than at sea level.

Every breath you take, every move you make, is agonising. Your body is slowly but surely shutting down. In the morning, Bourdillon and Evans are so weak they need to go down immediately. It is critical that the fitter men remain on the south col, to support the second assault team. John was determined to stay on but he was absolutely dead beat. Whereas George Lowe was still extremely active and strong. And when John announced that he wanted George to take all the weaker members of the expedition down, which did not include himself, George blew his top. I certainly spoke very sharply to John, and said that he was in no condition to do that. Physically. He should go down. And, you know, I am fairly blunt when I get going. And I did, in fact, tackle him straight.

And John took it. I'd set my heart on being in close support, so to speak, so that I could make any decisions that had to be made as between the first

and the second assaults. And I was most unwilling to go down. With the first assault team and himself exhausted, Hunt accepts the inevitable. Those things put together made it quite clear that where my duty lay, so to speak. But I was terribly upset about it. In fact I think I probably wept a few tears. Everything now depends on Hillary and Tenzing.

They wake next morning to perfect weather, and the calamitous news that some of their sherpas have been vomiting all night.

A load of 15 pounds is considered the upper limit at this height. They have no choice but to split the extra loads amongst themselves. We were all carrying pretty heavy loads.

I was probably carrying about 52 pounds.

And the majority of them certainly would have been

carrying 45 or so. George Lowe leads off, cutting steps. Tent poles left behind by the Swiss are a stark reminder of previous failures. At 27,000 feet, they find supplies left for them by Hunt. Nobody was very keen on taking any more load, so it was really left to me to issue it. I can always remember Alf Gregory really didn't want to take any more at all. But I just grabbed up one of the bundles

and thrust it in his hands and said, "Alf, that's your extra bit." So we made our way slowly up the ridge ahead, and started looking, somewhat desperately, for a suitable camp site. And it wasn't until we seemed to have gone on and on forever, that finally, out to the left, Tenzing pointed where there was a sloping snow ledge,

which he felt would be suitable. They bivouac at 27,900 feet. Lowe asks if he can be part of the second assault, but there is not enough oxygen. After handshakes all round, Lowe, Gregory and the sherpa Ang Nima head back down. The second assault team, the expedition's last chance,

are now on their own. All the snow was very unstable. And we had this horrible feeling that the slope might avalanche, and we go plunging 16,000 feet down the Kangshung face. I remember turning to Tenzing, and saying to him what did he think of it. And he said he didn't like it very much. And so then I said to him "Well, do you think

"we should stick to this route?" And he thought for a few moments, and then he said, "Just as you like." Two-and-a-half hours later, they are greatly relieved to reach the south summit, and can see the virgin ridge leading to the top. It was a corniced ridge, which meant it was overhanging, over the Kangshung face. So you couldn't walk along

the crest of the ridge, we would have to keep down

on the left hand side between the rock and the snow. And there was a very big drop down on the left hand side, into the western coomb. I just decided it looked a feasible proposition. And the main problem seemed to be halfway along,

where there was this almost vertical rock step, about 40 feet high, which barred the way.

Well, I have to tell you that at nearly 29,000 feet, that step looked very steep and demanding to us. But I realised that on the right hand side of the rock step, where the big ice cornice was sticking out over the Kangshung face, the whole cornice had moved away a little bit from the rock, and there was a narrow crack that ran up beside the rock.

It was just large enough for me to crawl inside. And with my back to the ice, I was able to wriggle and jam my way up to the top, and finally pull myself out, panting, on the rock ledge, 40 feet up. And that was a moment, on the whole expedition, when I was absolutely confident that we were going to get to the top. It was really that challenge of the Hillary step, that Ed overcame, was a superlative challenge to the spirit. All I can do is say that. That, really, is where Ed stepped way out, above the ordinary man.

Having surmounted the rock step which now bears his name, Hillary and Tenzing edge their way up the summit ridge.

Once again, I cut steps down on the left hand side until I noticed that the ridge ahead had dropped away, and that way out in the distance, I could see the barren highlands of Tibet. I looked up to the right, and there above me was a sort of rounded snowy dome. And I knew that must be the top. So Tenzing and I moved up this last little slope, with a few whacks of the ice axe, and then we stood on top of the mountain. I suppose you could say I set foot on the summit before Tenzing did, but we feel that we climbed the mountain together. Well I, in very square old Anglo-Saxon fashion, pushed out my hand to shake Tenzing by the hand,

but that certainly wasn't good enough for him. He threw his arms around my shoulders, and gave me a hug, and I threw my arms around his shoulders. And so we hugged each other, in satisfaction on top of the mountain. I was very much aware that it's a very disbelieving world, and that to have photographic proof that we had reached the summit was quite important. So I took my oxygen equipment off, and then took photographs, first of all with Tenzing standing there with all the flags waving in the breeze, and then down all the leading ridges of the mountain.

And when we got to the summit, Tenzing made a little hole in the snow, and in that he placed some chocolate and some sweets, and covered it over. And these were gifts to the gods, who Tenzing believed, on odd occasions, spent a little time on the summit of Mount Everest. And that reminded me of John Hunt's cross. In rather embarrassed fashion, John Hunt had produced this, and said, "Ed, would you mind taking it up with you?" I said, "No, I don't mind."

So I hastily felt into my pocket and produced this little cross, made a little hole in the snow, and put the cross in, and covered it up. We didn't feel that we had conquered Everest, we felt that Everest had relented. Down below at Camp IV, members of the expedition search anxiously

for any sign of the second assault team. Then three figures are seen, making their way down the Lhotse face. Then there was that wonderful moment. I think it was George that was leading, gave an unmistakable signal, and we knew that they had made it. And the release in tension and the relief... Oh, the reaction was something which I've never experienced before or since. I was enveloped by John Hunt's arms, he was virtually weeping with joy. I was slightly embarrassed, I have to admit, at the time.

Up on the south col, Hillary's response to their achievements was more prosaic. George said, "How'd it go, Ed?" And then I made those fateful utterances,

"Well George, we knocked the bastard off." I wasn't altogether surprised, because it was so typical of Ed to say something slightly jocular and down-to-earth like that. I possibly had hoped that he would send a message of very high spiritual value and so on, to the world at large, but it wasn't to be. The news breaks in London the morning of the coronation

of Queen Elizabeth II. As the expedition makes its way back to Kathmandu, mail runners deliver hundreds of congratulatory messages. One letter is addressed to Mr Edmund Hillary, KBE. Without being asked, Hillary and Hunt are knighted. Ed is now Sir Edmund. It still hadn't dawned on us that this was going

to create such a stir in the valley of Kathmandu. It was an extraordinary experience. They were, of course, mainly overjoyed by it, and proud of Tenzing's splendid achievement as their countrymen. Great signs had been drawn showing Tenzing on the summit of the mountain, and a rope going back to me,

lying on my back with my feet in the air, obviously being dragged to the summit by Tenzing. When we were approaching Kathmandu, Tenzing was dragged down a side alley by a very large crowd indeed. And they asked him to sign a document indicating that he had reached the summit first - a document, of course, he could not read. And the chap ran away with it shouting,

"I've got it, I've got it." And it says, "I reached the summit first, signed, Tenzing." And when he found out that he had been put into this position, he got very stressed. And he really... he did, he cried.

And he said, "I wish I'd never climbed the mountain." He found it very hard indeed. In fact I, for a while, really thought he should have told the truth.

Which was that he had not reached the summit first. But he was afraid to do so. With nationalistic fervour running at fever pitch in the capital, Hunt has to defuse a tricky situation. It's not a question which any... ..team, or any individual, climbing a mountain attached any importance to. You get to the top of a mountain only as a result of climbing with other companions

on the route. It's the work of a team.

The jubilation in Kathmandu is just a foretaste of what is to come. On the way home, they receive another rapturous reception in India. NEWSREEL: The gallant team that conquered Mount Everest lands at London Airport. Colonel Hunt, their leader, and sherpa Tenzing are first to face a hero's welcome. CHEERING The attention is relentless. The endless round of engagements includes a garden party

at Buckingham Palace. Arriving on their honeymoon from New Zealand are Sir Edmund Hillary, the Everest climber, and his bride. Oh, I think I'm very lucky to be in on all this. We're getting a marvellous time. And seeing a lot of country I've never seen before. So I think it will be great fun for me. People kept saying to me, after Everest, "You'll never have to work again. "Dozens and dozens of companies "are going to ask you to be a director, "money is just going to flow in. "You're going to be a rich man in no time at all." Well, of course, this didn't quite occur that way. And there are still expeditions to the Himalayas to lead, but increasingly, the mountains are telling Hillary something he doesn't want to hear. Twice he nearly loses his life on Makalu. Approaching 40, his days as

a high-altitude climber are numbered. Hillary accepts he needs a safer outlet for his prodigious energy. Sitting around a fire one night, he asks a sherpa friend

if there is anything he can do for their village. "We would like our children to go to school, sahib." In June 1961, Hillary and some climbing friends build a school in village of Khumjung.

Nestling in a high valley 15 miles from Everest, this tiny classroom in the clouds is the first school in this region of eastern Nepal. As one thing seemed to become impossible for me, other opportunities developed. Not as dangerous or exciting as some of my previous ones. Yet they were, in many ways, just as important challenges.

Hillary received many heartfelt letters, like this one, from the elders of Thame village.

"Please give us a school like Khumjung. "Our children have eyes, and yet they are blind." In five hectic years, Hillary builds seven schools, three bridges, an airstrip, and a small hospital at Kunde. Louise accompanies Hillary whenever she can.

Nepal becomes a bigger and bigger part of both their lives. Although the children often join their parents in Nepal, the visits are never long enough. When Hillary agrees to build a second hospital in the hill town of Phaphlu, something is done about this. We decided on Christmas in 1974, that as a family, we would spend the whole of the following year,

1975, in the Himalayas.

It had been something we'd wanted to do

for a long time. We'd spent many, many months there, of course. We'd never spent a whole year there before. So we packed up our home in New Zealand, and we all arrived in Kathmandu. In March 1975, family friend June Mulgrew is also in Kathmandu. Before heading back to New Zealand,

she has an unnerving conversation with Louise. She came to the airport to see us off.

And I remember vividly, her father was there, too, and they asked me to witness their wills. Little did I know, of course, as she drove off - and she was crying, and she never cried, really, she was a very sensible person. She was crying when she left, and they were on the back

of the little mini truck that we had. And that was the last I saw her. I'd been away a couple of weeks, really, from the family. And I was looking forward very much

to my wife and Belinda joining me. As well as the hospital, Hillary and his brother Rex are building an airstrip. On the morning of March 31st 1975, they wait impatiently at first, then anxiously, for a plane that never arrives.

And as time went by, I could only think that either there'd been bad weather down in Kathmandu, or something disastrous had occurred. And then I actually heard a helicopter, and I realised then, I'm sure, that it had been a disaster that occurred. So he came down to the helicopter,

and I went to him, and I said, "Ed... "..there's been a terrible thing happened. "The flight has crashed." And I can always remember saying to her, "Are they alive?" And she said she did not think so. The bodies are cremated that night, on the banks of the holy Bagmati River, which runs through Kathmandu.

It was a pretty terrifying sight, I have to admit. Seeing perhaps the most important part of my life disappearing up into the clouds. As soon as they hear the terrible news, Peter and Sarah fly to be with their father. And I remember the whole time, thinking that I just

couldn't wait to see my father. And as soon as I saw him, everything would be all right.

When I... ..got off the plane, Liz Hawley was there, and she warned me that Ed wasn't very good. And...and then I saw Ed, and of course, he was completely broken down. I sometimes, perhaps, ignored the fact that my children were equally affected by this great disaster.

A journey up the Ganges in jet boats is something that Hillary and Louise have long wanted to do together. In 1977, two years after her death, Hillary resurrects the plan, going from the Bay of Bengal to the source of the holy river in the Himalayas. All along the banks, huge crowds gather to cheer them on. In Calcutta, 3 million people turn out to pay tribute. They regarded us as travelling on a holy pilgrimage. And we almost started to have a little bit of this feeling ourselves. In Varanasi we were given the most tremendous welcome, not only by the local people, but by the many jaris,

as priests are called, who lived along the bank. I really felt that the sorrows of the past two-and-a-half years had drifted a little bit behind me now. It was really, for me, a very important turning point... ..in my life. NEWSREADER: The disaster in Antarctica.

And tonight it seems certain that there's no hope for any of the 257 people onboard flight 901. The Air New Zealand DC-10, which crashed

and exploded here, on Mount Erebus... It's a flight Hillary is supposed to be on. Unable to go, his old friend Peter Mulgrew takes his place. Both Peter and I had done a number of conducted tours

down to the Antarctic. And it happened that the flight that they wanted me to go on was not possible for me to do, so Peter took it over. The Mulgrews, Peter and June, had been great friends of ours for decades, really. And Peter had been to the South Pole with me, and been to the Himalayas. And so June and I were both left alone. It was amazing, really.

We'd been a foursome for such a long time, and suddenly there was just two of us. We knew all the same people, and I knew a lot about what he was doing. I was in the Himalayan Trust. I'd known the children since they were minute. It was just a sort of... prohibition, I think.

We did, unquestionably, as old friends, gravitate together. I think relatively quickly... ..a very warm friendship built up between us.

In 1985, Hillary gets a phone call from New Zealand's Prime Minister, David Lange, inviting him to become High Commissioner in India. I asked him specifically, "Just what do you want me to do "when I'm in New Delhi?" And he said, "I want you to do precisely what you think is best." The best thing Hillary could do is take June Mulgrew with him. But he doesn't quite know how to ask her. He didn't really say anything very much. So I had to say to myself, "Right, is he not saying anything because he doesn't want me to come, "or is he waiting for me to say I think I'll come?" So after a while I said, "What about me coming?" So he seemed to be... reasonably agreeable to that. Oh, I was extremely agreeable. In India, Hillary is able to see more of his old climbing companion, Tenzing. He was very proud of the fact, as he should have been, that he had... that we had been the first on top of Mount Everest.

But he really felt that he could have done more for his people up in the Himalayas. Like the things that I was involved in. And I used to tell him that the contribution he had made was tremendous. Thousands of young Indians had been introduced to adventure,

and I felt he had no need to regret what he had carried out in his life.

Just when Hillary has broken free from his grief, he finds Tenzing is depressed, drinking heavily, and in physical and spiritual decline. He was down in Delhi here, and very ill. And he had some sort of chest complaint.

In hospital, a tearful Tenzing clutches Hillary's hand and says that sometimes he wished he'd never climbed Everest.

He felt that his time had run out, and that he had very, very little of his life left. And certainly when he returned back to Darjeeling,

it was not long before the message came through that he had, in actual fact, died.

Hillary and June are determined to attend the funeral. But there are problems.

The people of these hills have long campaigned

for a homeland separate from West Bengal. In 1986, at the time of Tenzing's death, sectarian violence is rife. Hundreds are killed. Rioters block the road to Darjeeling, which is closed to all Westerners. Their mood was pretty aggressive, actually. And they initially did not wish to let us through. But the army captain actually handled it extremely well. And he pointed out to the people that this was Tenzing's old friend Hillary, and his mem-sahib, going up for the final rites. And they immediately parted and let us through.

They even started chanting the old call... (Speaks Nepali) Which means, "respected Hillary, wonderful is he". Respect is the one thing Tenzing felt he had always been denied. He died a disappointed man, and never saw the statue erected in his honour in his adopted country. It stands in the grounds

of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute which he founded. Hillary is the guest of honour at the official unveiling. I have never regarded myself as much of a hero. But Tenzing, I believe, undoubtedly was.

I think it is appropriate that this magnificent statue should stand here forever, in front of the mountains he loved. When Tengboche Monastery was burnt to the ground in 1990, Hillary led an international fundraising appeal to get it rebuilt.

Every time he comes up here now to pay his respects, he plays Russian roulette with his cerebral arteries. Hillary once said of his life, "I discovered that even the mediocre can have adventures,

"and even the fearful can achieve. "I had the world beneath my clumsy boots, "and saw the red sun slip over the horizon "after the dark Antarctic winter. "But for me the most rewarding moments

"have not always been the great moments. "For what can surpass a tear on your departure, "joy on your return, "and a trusting hand in yours."

"(Nepali words), from sherpa Hillary." APPLAUSE Closed Captions by CSI *

This program is not subtitled

CC

Good evening, Joe O'Brien

with the late news. It's

shaping up as one of the

finance industry's biggest

fraud. A single rogue trader

appears to have taken more than

$8 billion from one of Europe's

biggest bank's, France's

Societe Genereale. The ABC's

Europe correspondent Raphael

Epstein joins me from London

now. How does a bank lose

track of $8 billion? Well,

that's the question, Joe. The

head of Lam den Brothers was

speaking in Switzerland about

this, and he says for bankers

this is everyone's worst

nightmare. 100 of the bank's

shareholders have launched

legal action against the bank

accusing them of fraud and

misconduct. It seems to have

been a significant failure of

the way the bank works

internally. The bank says the

trader was irrational and while

he was authorised to trade in