8000 Meters Facts
George Lowe, Last Remaining Everest Pioneer Passes Away|
The last surviving member of the team which was the first
to conquer Everest 60 years ago has died.
George Lowe, 89, died at a nursing home in Ripley, Derbyshire on Wednesday
after a long illness.
The New Zealand-born mountaineer was part of the team which helped Sir
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to become the first to reach the top of
the world's highest peak on 29 May, 1953.
He helped set up the final camp 300 metres (1,000ft) below the summit
which allowed Hillary and Norgay to reach the 8,850 metre peak and mark
their place in history.
Lowe was the first to meet the duo as they descended the summit and
Hillary, a close friend and countryman, greeted him with the words: "Well
George, we knocked the bastard off."
Family friend and historian Dr Huw Lewis-Jones described Lowe as a
'"gentle soul and a fine climber" whose achievements deserved wider
"George is a hero of mine. I don't often use that word but then it is not
very often that you get to meet one," he said.
Lowe was born in Hastings, New Zealand and became a schoolteacher. He
spent his holidays climbing in the country's southern alps, where he met
The pair were members of the first New Zealand expedition to the Himalayas
in 1951 before joining the British Everest expedition to conquer the
mountain just days before the Queen's coronation.
Following his Everest climb, Lowe went on to take part in the
trans-Antarctic expedition of 1957-58, which made the first successful
overland crossing of Antarctica via the south pole.
He later made expeditions to Greenland, Greece and Ethiopia, before
settling in England and becoming a schools inspector with the Department
of Education. He retired in 1984.
Lowe made a documentary about his experiences called The Conquest of
Everest. It was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary feature.
Over recent years, he had been working with Lewis-Jones on putting
together his memoirs featuring photographs from the climb. This will be
published in May.
"Lowe was a brilliant, kind fellow who never sought the limelight," said
"An unsung hero, if you like, and 60 years on from Everest his
achievements deserve wider recognition.
"It has been an honour to have spent the last few years working with
George's family on his memoirs and photographs.
"He was a gentle soul, a gentleman, generous with his time and modest
despite all his success.
"He was involved in two of the most important explorations of the 20th
century – Everest, and the first crossing of Antarctica – yet remained a
humble, happy man right to the end. That's an inspirational lesson to us
Source: The Guardian; March 22, 2013