Nearly 50 years after the names Hillary and Norgay became linked
forever in Everest lore, Peter Hillary, the 47-year-old son of
Sir Edmund Hillary, and Tashi Norgay, the 36-year-old grandson
of Tenzing Norgay, will attempt to repeat the famous ascent of
their forebears (below). To kick off a yearlong celebration of
that 1953 climb to the roof of the world, Peter and Tashi hope
to summit Everest by mid-May. (The expedition will be filmed by
National Geographic, which will air the documentary in 2003.)
Last week we caught up with Peter, who completed his first
Everest ascent in 1990, at his New Zealand home.
SI: What advice has your father given you about the expedition?
Hillary: Let's face it: Dad, better than most, knows what the
risks are on a mountain like Everest. His main comment has been
to tell me, "You've got to look after yourself. We don't want to
lose you now."
SI: What's your itinerary for the next two months?
Hillary: We'll spend nearly two weeks trekking up to the Everest
Base Camp, which we'll do in late March. Then we'll spend all of
April setting up the camps. During the first two weeks of May,
we'll make our separate summit attempts, both along Everest's
South Col. Ideally, we'd like to get to the summit by the second
week of May. But we'll need the weather to cooperate.
SI: Why does your father's climb still resonate so much?
Hillary: It was like breaking the four-minute mile or landing on
the moon. Physiologists debated whether or not humans could in
fact climb to 29,000 feet. Well, my father and Tenzing basically
forged their way into that unknown area.
SI: What's the most adventurous thing you've done away from a
Hillary: Three years ago I skied across Antarctica to the South
Pole. But on a much lighter level I went on a wonderful
adventure 12 years ago with my father and Neil Armstrong. We
flew on a small ski-equipped airplane to the North Pole.
SI: Would you like your children [Amelia, 12, George, 9,
Alexander, 5, and Lily, 2] to climb Everest one day?
Hillary: I would obviously want them to see the great mountain
and the place where their grandfather made this extraordinary
ascent. People sometimes think that as time goes by, everything
gets easier. Let me tell you something: Everest doesn't get
COLOR PHOTO: LONDON TIMES/TIMEPIX Towering figures The names Hilary (right) and Norgay were first linked on the historic '53 ascent