All aboard!

Your second stop, as you Armchair Travel, is Chessler’s Books. Specialing in mountaineering, rock climbing and exploration, they carry a lot of books about the Himalayas. Several months ago I ordered an out-of-print book and discovered they’re located right here in Evergreen! This is Micheal Chessler’s tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary:

Ed Hillary on his deck in August 2007, holding the
Simond Ice Axe he used on Mount Everest in 1953.

Dear friends, The world lost one of its finest citizens on January 10, 2008, when Sir Edmund Hillary died at the age of 88. Sir Ed turned Lionel Terray’s statement, that climbing was a useless activity, on its head, because as humans we can find significant meaning in any activity if we look deep enough. Ed was a normal climber, just a little stronger and better acclimated than most in 1953, when by chance and tenacity he and Tenzing became the first people to stand at the highest place on earth.

The symbolism of that achievement was instantly apparant to people all over the world, as proof that humans can overcome any obstacle, even those that the experts say are unassailable, and become as infinite as man may undergo. Hillary at first felt that the adulation and awards heaped upon him were misplaced, and that he was a simple man who was just in the right place at the right time.


But the act of being called a special person had an amazing effect on him, as he became what people thought of him, and even more than what they thought, because he was real, he did his work on his own terms, with utter honesty and lack of guile. He tried to devote his life to one thing, helping the people of Nepal who had given so much to the visiting climbers. And by doing that, he had the effect of causing all of us to realize that he was a selfless man who used his fame only for doing good works, and not his own enrichment. He became a symbol of the good that one person can do for fellow man, and perhaps gave us a glimpse of what the meaning of life itself is.


I had the honor of knowing him, as we met with him every few years when he would autograph books for us. To avoid the time constraints of meeting with him in the middle of his busy travel schedule in hotels in big American cities, in 2001 we started visiting him in New Zealand where we could work leisurely. We made sizeable donations to his foundation, the Sir Edmund Hillary Himalayan Trust, and over the years we are proud that it amounted to many tens of thousands of dollars.


The last time we met was August 2007, and we could tell his health was failing, but he was still in good spirits and invited us to visit even though he was getting weaker. On Wednesday January 9, 2008 his wife June and I exchanged e-mails, as I inquired about his health, and she told me he was in hospital, but was feeling better and was coming home in a day or two. Sadly, that was not to be as he died in his sleep that night.


Michael Chessler

One Comment on “All aboard!”

  1. lhasalhady says:

    Vickie sent this link, another tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary. He was obviously loved by the sherpas.

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