[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
LANGUAGES
Urdu
Hindi
Bengali
Pashto
Nepali
Tamil
Sinhala
Last Updated: Monday, 26 May, 2003, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Hillary laments Everest changes
Sir Edmund Hillary at home in New Zealand
Sir Edmund says mountaineering has changed a lot
The first man to conquer Everest 50 years ago has said many modern climbers do not subscribe to the true philosophy of mountaineering.

Speaking to the BBC, Sir Edmund Hillary criticised many commercial climbers today who pay large sums of money to be helped to the top of the world's highest peak.

But he said living standards of local Sherpas had improved considerably as more people visited the Everest region.

Record numbers of people are currently on the mountain to mark the golden anniversary of the first-ever ascent on 29 May 1953.

Changes

Sir Edmund said mountaineering was a challenge between the mountain and the mountaineer and accused some people of paying their way to the summit.

He said this was one of the most significant changes since his ascent with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

Edmund Hillary (L) and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (R)
It is 50 years since Hillary and Tenzing made the ascent
"Having people pay $65,000 and then be led up the mountain by a couple of experienced guides, I personally think, is far less attractive. It isn't really mountaineering at all," he said.

But he was quick to concede that the vast numbers of people attracted by Everest had had spin-offs for local people.

He said schools and hospitals had been built and fresh water could now be piped to the villages.

These benefits came much more from tourism as a whole, rather than from mountaineering alone, Sir Edmund said.

"I think these are things that give the young people the opportunity to step forward and to overcome the harshness of their environment."

Deforestation

But he warned that foreigners must take extra care to protect the environment.

A major problem of deforestation had occurred as tourists used local trees for firewood to keep them warm during the cold nights, he said.

The practise is now illegal but is still continued by some people.

"They behave as though they are lords of the area. They don't consider the welfare of the local people," said Sir Edmund.

As mountaineers praise his and Sherpa Tenzing's efforts of 50 years ago, Sir Edmund rejected suggestions that there were no great challenges left for young people to pursue.

He said there were more difficult mountains than Everest which have yet to climbed, as well as challenges at sea that have yet to be met.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Michael Peschardt interviews Edmund Hillary
Watch the interview in full



EVEREST CONQUEST 50 YEARS ON

FEATURES

1953 file photo of Edmund Hillary Hillary lament
The mountain's first conqueror criticises those who buy their way to the summit

Everest collection
A history in pictures

IN THEIR STEPS - A DAILY DIARY
 

NEWS


FROM THE ARCHIVE


ASK THE EXPERT



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific