Climbers’ his­toric story re­vealed

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - MAR­JORIE COOK Wanaka launch:

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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