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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 recognition.

"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 Hillary.

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 Lewis-Jones.

"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 all."

Source: The Guardian; March 22, 2013

 







 

 

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