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Adrian

New Zealand and the Antarctic

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Partially restored thread - I have chosen to repost only my initial contribution to this thread.

 

Adrian 20th January 2007 01:26 PM

 

New Zealand and the Antarctic

 

Recommended by a fellow Antarctic scholar and now no longer welcome BGO member Kris, this is a supremely "academic" study that takes in all facets of the book title. NZ was and still is the preferred stopoff point for the deep south and this book explains why. Not just the geographic proximity, but it seems there's a wholehearted willingness of NZ to be part of a new beginning. Nations converging, scientists collaborating, etc.

 

L.B. knew his topic, that of the "Golden age" of exploration, and this is exactly what I like. A straightforward account of New Zealand's practical involvement in the expeditions of Scott, Shackleton, Byrd, and most importantly the founding of Scott Base.

 

The author himself is more than qualified, having witnessed the return of the Nimrod to Lyttleton in 1908, and was involved throughout his life with NZ's interest in all matters Antarctic: he edited that wonderful journal Antarctic (back issues available in the Central Stack of my local library, as are facsimiles of The Polar Times!), and was involved fifty years ago in the restoration of the Huts.

 

And contemporaneous accounts are all that matter. If I see another newly published biography of Scott or Shackleton the first thing I'll do is look at the author's agenda. I know they'll have nothing new to say and will make money saying it. I find Roland Huntford is the only author worth reading these days, though I am always pleased to hear recommendations.

 

One major problem with the book is the "hero-worship" of that great charleton, Hilary. How "Sir Ed" sleeps at night I don't know. A more selfish and idiosyncratic man I never saw. Lie, cheat all you like Sir Ed, but don't denigrate the memories of Tensing Norgay and Bunny Fuchs. It's quite frankly insulting. I guess if you live long enough and keep saying it, it must be true, mustn't it?

 

Not if you read L.B.'s 1971 account.

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How "Sir Ed" sleeps at night I don't know. A more selfish and idiosyncratic man I never saw. Lie, cheat all you like Sir Ed, but don't denigrate the memories of Tensing Norgay and Bunny Fuchs. It's quite frankly insulting. I guess if you live long enough and keep saying it, it must be true, mustn't it?

 

Not if you read L.B.'s 1971 account.

I sense from the beginning of this thread that there has been some contention here... all the same, Adrian, you've raised some interesting points. Would you care to elaborate? Or have you already done so elsewhere?

 

(I have to confess that explorers have never really been my thing, so I've never looked into them in detail, but I didn't realise such a passionate case could be made against Hilary.)

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Even while alive he got a very hagiographic treatment. While Tensing Norgay was alive, Hillary said they both reached the summit together. It was only after Norgay died that Hillary said that it was actually he, Hillary, that reached the summit first. The chat show he said that on was hosted by Mark Sainsbury (think one of the Dimbledy's) who has now been appointed Official Family Spokesman.

 

My main concern with Hillary was that he always got to create his own history. It either happened his way or it didn't happen.

 

In my defence, I did use to say these things when he was living. I only had to mention Mallory and things kicked off. Was he half-way up or half-way down?

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Even while alive he got a very hagiographic treatment. While Tensing Norgay was alive, Hillary said they both reached the summit together. It was only after Norgay died that Hillary said that it was actually he, Hillary, that reached the summit first.

 

On the BBC News this morning, they said that it was Norgay that admitted first in his book that Hillary was a few feet ahead of him. Is that not the case?

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On the BBC News this morning, they said that it was Norgay that admitted first in his book that Hillary was a few feet ahead of him. Is that not the case?

If that was the case, why didn't Hillary say he was first to the summit? It all seemed a bit iffy, especially when it was told to "NZ Parky" years later.

 

I would have liked to hear him talk about the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition. That was when I lost a lot of admiration for him.

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I sense from the beginning of this thread that there has been some contention here.

There were other replies to the original thread but a no-longer welcome member called Kr*s derailed the thread so I chose to restore only my own original post.

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On the BBC News this morning, they said that it was Norgay that admitted first in his book that Hillary was a few feet ahead of him. Is that not the case?
The way I heard that was that Hillary first claimed he was first to the top in 1999, long after Norgay's death (Today programme, @ 07:02).

Much was made, on the programme, of the work done by Hillary for the Nepali Sherpas since then, building bridges, hospitals and schools.

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