Friday, 12 April 2013

George Lowe

On 22 March, New Zealander George Lowe passed away at the age of 89. George Lowe was the last surviving climber from the team that made the first successful ascent of Mount Everest.

As a child, Lowe broke his arm and it did not heal well. Despite being told by doctors that he would always be a cripple, Lowe went on to become an highly accomplished mountaineer.  Lowe accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary on a several expeditions including on Eric Shipton’s British Everest Reconnaissance Expedition and John Hunt’s 1953 British Everest Expedition. Upon summitting Mount Everest with Nepalese sherpa Tenzing Norgay, Hillary told Lowe that they had "knocked the bastard off".

Ref: AWNS-19350710-44-3, Young mountaineer, 1935, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Ten years after hi Everest ascent, Hillary published several best-selling accounts of his exploits, including 'East of Everest : an account of the New Zealand Alpine Club Himalayan Expedition to the Barun Valley in 1954' (1956), which he wrote with George Lowe. Copies of this book can be found in the Auckland Libraries' heritage collections.

George Lowe also wrote a number of other books including: 'Because it was there' (1959) 'Letters from Everest : a New Zealander's account of the epic first ascent' (2013).

In the heritage collections are also resources about Sir Edmund Hillary including: 'In their own words : from the sound archives of Radio New Zealand' compiled by Stephen Barnett and Jim Sullivan (1988). This resource includes an interview with Hillary and Lowe.

Ref: AWNS-19250423-45-4, Mountaineer dwarfed by landscape, 1925, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Archives New Zealand Te Rua Maharao Te Kāwanatanga holds a wealth of records about Sir Edmund Hillary (just enter the term Edmund Hillary into the search box in Archway) including photographs, film and an autograph by this climbing legion. A number of the records relate to the Trans Antarctic Expedition which Hillary took part in. There is even a film showing the opening by Hillary of a chairlift on Mount Ruapheu, Tongariro National Park.

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