We all know on 29 May 1953, Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The highest mountain on Earth. Its peak is 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) above sea level.
But did you know he also reached the South Pole overland from Scott Base in 1958. He subsequently reached the North Pole, making him the first person to reach both poles and summit Everest.
The hut, also known as Hut A or the Trans-Antarctic Expedition Hut, was the first
building constructed at Scott Base and is where Sir Ed began his historic expedition
to the South Pole in 1957.
The Antarctic Heritage Trust is embarking on a major and somewhat unusual
expedition to help raise $1 million dollars to save Sir Edmund Hillary’s hut in
Antarctica and maintain it for the next 25 years.
Sir Ed’s son Peter Hillary, who himself has skied from Scott Base to the South Pole,
says Antarctica and the hut were very important to his father.
“Dad often talked about his time in Antarctica and the trip to the South Pole … he
saw it as one of his major achievements saying it was an extreme challenge after
Everest. He spent a lot of time in that hut – it was where his office was and where
his bunk bed was. I know he’d want it saved.”
Nearly 60 years on, Hillary’s Hut has a leaking roof, asbestos that needs removing,
melt-pools forming under the floorboards and memorabilia within it showing signs of
damage and corrosion.
Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson says the hut and its
artefacts can be saved.
“We have put together a comprehensive Conservation Plan that details how the hut
and artefacts can be conserved and maintained for 25 years. We just need to raise
the funds to do so and are hoping New Zealanders can help us save this valuable
slice of Kiwi history,” says Nigel.
Now, the Antarctic Heritage Trust is embarking on a journey known as Expedition
South, from Piha Beach (one of Sir Ed’s favourite places) to Aoraki Mount Cook
(finishing in sight of the Hillary Ridge).
They will travel the same distance Sir Ed and his team did (2012 kilometres) on three
tractors – two of them the same Ferguson TE-20 model tractors that Sir Ed and his
team had, the other a new Massey Ferguson MF5600.
Nigel Watson says it will be a hard slog.
“While our team won’t be on the Ice and will have far more comforts than Sir Ed and
his team had, it’s still going to take them nearly four weeks and they’re likely to face
all kinds of weather.”
Along the way, Expedition South will be stopping at various schools, Hillary
hotspots and events to collect donations from the public.
“We are calling on Kiwis to give a fiver. The $5 note has Sir Ed’s face on it so we
can’t think of a better use for it than saving his Antarctic legacy.”
The tour will be at The Tractor Centre Pukekohe on Wednesday at 4pm to 5:30pm!
Peter Hillary hopes New Zealanders will dig in and help save the hut.
“Dad was quoted as saying that he was “hell bent on taking the South Pole – God
willing and crevasse permitting”. Now I’m hoping New Zealand will be hell bent on
saving his hut. The Antarctic Heritage Trust has come up with a wonderful plan –
now we just need to find the funds.”
The Tractor Centre – Pukekohe
Corner of Heights Rd & Paerata Rd, SH2, Paerata