Climbing legend Hillary hospitalized

Sir Edmund Hillary
New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary, seen here in Antarctica in January, was hospitalized in New Zealand after a fall, media reported Tuesday.Wayne Drought / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Mountaineering legend Sir Edmund Hillary, best known for conquering Mount Everest, is in a New Zealand hospital after a fall, media reported Tuesday.

Hillary, 87, who along with sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first men to climb the world’s tallest peak in 1953, is believed to have fallen during the weekend, the New Zealand Herald newspaper’s Web site reported.

Lady June Hillary said in a statement Tuesday that her husband was admitted to a hospital after the couple returned from a visit to Nepal on Sunday.

Lady Hillary said she was “happy” with her husband’s progress and that he is “in a comfortable position and improves daily.”

She made was no comment on the nature of his illness. Hillary has suffered from altitude sickness for many years and has walked with the aid of a cane for the past several years.

Hillary’s recent visit to the Himalayas saw him and Elizabeth Hawley — unofficial chronicler of expeditions in the Himalayas for 40 years — meeting members of the 2007 “SuperSherpas Expedition” in Nepal’s capital, Katmandu.

The SuperSherpas Expedition hopes to make a historic all-Sherpa attempt on the summit of Everest next month to bring attention to the Sherpa people, who have been guides for every successful attempt on Everest. Many feel their role is under-appreciated.

Since first reaching the 29,035-foot summit of Everest, Hillary has donated millions of dollars to the sherpas for building schools, hospitals, clinics, roads and bridges. He also has helped pay for restoring temples and improving water supplies Nepal.

Besides his Everest exploits, Hillary also helped lead a team to the South Pole in 1955.