Renowned Kiwi climbers die of old age


Two climbers from New Zealand’s great era of moun­taineer­ing died within 11 days of each other in Oc­to­ber, hav­ing both reached their ninth decade.

Ed Cot­ter, 90, of Christchurch was a pi­o­neer­ing New Zealand climber and a mem­ber of the first New Zealand Himalayan Ex­pe­di­tion in 1951 with Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary.

Nor­man Hardie (QSO), 92, of Christchurch, pi­o­neered routes in the south­ern alps and was part of the ex­pe­di­tion that con­quered Kangchen­junga, the third high­est peak in the world – a climb con­sid­ered more dif­fi­cult than Mt Ever­est – in 1955.

Stuff re­ported last month had the cards fallen dif­fer­ently, Cot­ter might have been the Ed­mund adorn­ing the Kiwi five-dol­lar note for his moun­taineer­ing feats.

Hil­lary and Ten­z­ing Nor­gay be­came the first to as­cend Mt Ever­est, in 1953.

Cot­ter’s son Guy Cot­ter, di­rec­tor of Wanaka com­pany Ad­ven­ture Con­sul­tants, said his fa­ther was al­ways ad­ven­tur­ous.

‘‘From when he was quite young, he used to go tramp­ing in the hills in and around Arthur’s Pass and other Can­ter­bury moun­tain re­gions, like the Ar­row­smiths.

‘‘His fa­ther was also a moun­taineer, so that got him into it.’’

In 1951, Cot­ter went with Hil­lary, Ge­orge Lowe, and Earle Rid­di­ford on the first New Zealand Himalayan ex­pe­di­tion to pi­o­neer Mukut Par­bat.

Cot­ter and Rid­di­ford, and a Sherpa guide named Pasang Dawa Lama, reached the sum­mit (Hil­lary and Lowe did not) and this suc­cess led to the in­clu­sion of Hil­lary and Lowe in the fa­mous 1953 ex­pe­di­tion, where Hil­lary and Nor­gay sum­mited Mt Ever­est for the first time.

Cot­ter died peace­fully at Edith Cavell Rest Home, in Christchurch, on Oc­to­ber 19. His fu­neral was on Oc­to­ber 25. Ti­maru-born Hardie, a civil en­gi­neer, was from the same era of climb­ing pi­o­neers and died on Oc­to­ber 30.

He worked in Antarc­tica in the 1960s as a sur­vival in­struc­tor, sur­veyor and leader of Scott Base.

He also helped fa­cil­i­tate the ground work for the 1953 Ever­est ex­pe­di­tion and went on to pi­o­neer many climbs in the Hi­malayas.

Hardie also wrote books, served on the Himalayan Trust, the New Zealand Alpine Club and other com­mit­tees.


Ed Cot­ter on his way to Ever­est Base Camp in 2008.


Nor­man Hardie was a pi­o­neer­ing Can­ter­bury climber.

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