Medals given out to mark Everest Day
More than a dozen New Zealand mountaineers who summited Mt Everest will receive their medals during the inaugural Everest Day.
The free event, at Western Springs on June 1, will commemorate the first successful ascent of the world’s highest peak by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953 – 61 years ago tomorrow.
It is being organised by the New Zealand arm of the Non-Resident Nepali Association.
Association president Chakra Thapa says about 40 New Zealanders who have climbed Everest will also be honoured.
The organisation hopes to give 15 of the mountaineers medals from the Nepalese government.
Medals are usually collected by climbers in Kath- mandu after they summit but these medals were outstanding and were sent by the Nepal embassy to the association, Thapa says.
‘‘Mountaineers around the world can benefit from their experiences,’’ he says.
‘‘The day is very important to the people of New Zealand and Nepal as the relationship between these two countries established and strengthened after the historical union between two summiteers.’’
The event is usually celebrated in Nepal at the end of each climbing season.
In Auckland, it will include a speech by Sir Edmund Hillary’s son Peter Hillary of Epsom, who reached the top of Everest twice, in 1990 and 2002.
More than 4000 climbers have summited Everest – also known as Chomolungma – since it was first conquered by Hillary and Norgay.
But it was what Hillary did after Everest that was perhaps the most significant.
The former beekeeper from Tuakau built and ran 42 schools, hospitals and medical clinics in the Everest region.
‘‘When Hillary climbed Everest he started a very close relationship between Nepal and New Zealand,’’ Thapa says.
‘‘Because of him we got a lot of help. He helped a lot of Sherpa children. That’s a very important part.’’
There will also be one minute’s silence to honour the 16 Sherpas killed in the deadliest avalanche on Everest on April 18 of this year.
Mountain climb: Peter Hillary with Tenzing Sherpa in front of the Khumbu Icefall in 2010.