Climbers’ historic story revealed
When climbers Ed Cotter, Earle Riddiford and Pasang Dawa Lama pioneered Mukut Parbat, a 7242m in the Indian Garhwal in 1951, the two Kiwis wrote about their experiences – Cotter in a secret diary, Riddiford in letters to his mother.
Together, the writings corroborate an untold story of the first New Zealand Expedition to Himalaya, and now freelance journalist Lyn McKinnon has revealed that story in her new book, Only Two For Everest.
Wanaka climber Guy Cotter was astounded when McKinnon told him she had discovered his father’s diaries and had even deciphered his handwriting.
‘‘My father is getting on and he doesn’t have a lot of recall of that time himself. But the amazing thing is that there are diaries I didn’t even know about that she uncovered.
‘‘Even more amazing was she could decipher his hand writing. That I could never do,’’ Guy Cotter said.
The expedition on the border of India and Tibet resulted in team members Riddiford and Sir Ed Hillary being invited by the British to join their reconnaissance of Everest one month later.
McKinnon tells the story of Cotter and Riddiford’s daunting climb and its aftermath.
She interviewed both Cotters for the book, as sell as Riddiford’s daughters, Sarah, Anne and Belinda, and son Richard.
Ed Cotter is the only surviving member of the 1951 expedition and lives in Sumner.
It is true story, sourced from two authentic, corroborating sources and diverges from widely accepted stories that have gone unchallenged for six decades, she says.
Being given the diaries was ’’incredible’’, she said.
‘‘One day Ed came to me with a little blue Ballantyne’s bag and said, ‘You might be interested in these’.
‘‘That’s where the diaries were . . . they had survived the [Christchurch earthquakes] . . .
‘‘Because I was able to use Earle Riddiford’s personal letters, they were confirmation and back up for each other.
‘‘So I knew I had the correct story,’’ McKinnon said.
October 14, Albert Town Tavern, 7.00pm. Hosted by Adventure Consultants. Fundraiser for Sherpa Future Fund.
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