Sir Edmund Hillary and the Spirit of Adventure

Hillary header

It seemed entirely appropriate earlier this week when the tall ship Spirit of New Zealand spread the ashes of explorer Sir Edmund Hillary across the Hauraki Gulf in a small private ceremony. The Spirit, owned and operated by The Spirit of Adventure Trust, is a youth sail training / experiential education organization for which Sir Edmund served as a patron.

Hillary, the first person to conquer Mt. Everest with his climbing partner Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, was a national hero and international icon who epitomized the spirit of adventure to several generations since his incredible feat in 1953. He passed away at the age of 88.

In his book View From the Summit, published nearly 10 years ago, Hillary said he wanted to die peacefully and would

“like my ashes spread on the beautiful waters of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf to be washed gently ashore maybe on the many pleasant beaches near the place where I was born. Then the full circle of my life will be complete.”

Sir Edmund Hillary Ashes Cast Into Sea (Associated Press)

Service at sea farewells Sir Ed (New Zealand Herald)

Some of my favorite Hillary quotes:

“You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things – to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated.”

“People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.”

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

hillary spirit gangplank

The Spirit of Adventure Trust is an organization adept at generating buzz. In 2006, the Trust gained international attention when they attempted to auction off a piece of the famed America’s Cup as a fundraiser. This was all a result of vandalism that took place in 1997 when an activist protesting the plight of Aboriginal people in New Zealand attacked it with a sledgehammer. The Cup had been long repaired but a stray piece surfaced nearly 10 years later. There was vigorous opposition from the Cup holder, Switzerland, and many others throughout the sailing world. In the end, the auction never took place; however, the publicity received was probably worth it all.

Above right photo is of special built gangway for Hillary ceremony which in the future will be used for embarking and disembarking handicapped sailors.


 Swiss fume over possible auction of remnants of Cup (Boston Globe 10/13/06)

Storm brews over salvaged cup piece (The Telegraph 10/20/06)

America’s Cup piece returned (TVNZ 11/06/06)

Here’s funky YouTube video of the Spirit of New Zealand.

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Peter A. Mello

Father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

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