KATHMANDU (Reuters Life!) - The ashes of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to summit Mount Everest, will be kept at a memorial near the mountain and will not be scattered on the peak as he had desired, a sherpa official said on Friday.
Hillary, who climbed Everest in 1953 along with Nepal’s Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, died in 2008 at the age of 88 in New Zealand. He had wished that his ashes be scattered on the world’s highest mountain and over Auckland’s harbor.
A Nepali sherpa climber, Apa Sherpa, who holds the record for the most successful Everest ascents, was to scatter Hillary’s ashes, which have lain in a monastery in the area, next month.
But Ang Tenzing Sherpa, chief of sherpa citizens’ group Khumbu Civil Society, said scattering the ashes on the mountain, considered God by the sherpa community, would be against their culture and tradition.
“It is inauspicious,” Sherpa told Reuters from Namche, gateway to the 8,850-meter (29,035 feet) Mount Everest.
“Therefore, the ashes will be kept at a memorial during the golden jubilee of the first school Hillary opened in Khumjung next year,” he said.
After his pioneering ascent, Hillary kept his connection to Nepal alive, building schools, hospitals, an airport and pipelines in the remote Solukhumbu district, home to Mount Everest and the sherpas known for their climbing skills.
Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Rina Chandran and Miral Fahmy