Little known fact about me- I was once a competitive rock climber. (And I guess now that is no longer little known, now that it's on the internet). I was pretty into it, actually... and climbing is how I met Ranger Man, I was working at a climbing gym, and he and some Ranger buddies were coming in to climb.
Anyways, back on topic, once upon a time, when I was in the eighth grade (so that would have been nine years ago? ish?) I did a project for a state-wide History contest. I did a presentation, more like a dramatization, of the effects of the climbing industry on the Sherpa in Nepal- specifically the advent of new climbing science and technology on the Sherpa culture.
I wrote a letter to Sir Edmund Hillary, knowing of his interest in the Sherpa and asking for any first hand knowledge he might have had. He sent me back a letter- a form letter- and a signed picture of himself. So I guess I have a sort of a personal connection. What I know about is this: he was probably one of the best people that could have possibly gotten that first summit. He used the subsequent fame not for his own gain, but to help other people, such as the Sherpa. Climbers aren't usually known for their small egos, and his humanitarian work, in light of his gigantic publicity was really incredible. I think I am most impressed by the fact that he didn't hog the limelight from Tenzing Norgay- his Sherpa guide. He very easily could have taken all of the credit, but he didn't do that, which I believe shows a whole heck of a lot of character, one of the few true heroes of this world.
The world lost a hero today.