Another Hillary has a head for heights

Alexander Hillary on the summit of Mt Earnslaw, near Glenorchy, on January 12.
Alexander Hillary on the summit of Mt Earnslaw, near Glenorchy, on January 12.
A grandson of Sir Edmund Hillary is spending the summer in Queenstown building his fitness for a year of adventure in the Antarctic, the Himalayas and Alaska.

Alexander Hillary (23) has been staying at the family crib since the beginning of the year while helping set up a temporary ''Edmund Hillary Collection'' store at Queenstown Airport.

He is taking the opportunity to climb local peaks - including Mt Earnslaw with his father, Peter, last month - and running popular mountain trails such as the Ben Lomond Track.

Alexander Hillary
Alexander Hillary
On March 3, he will join an Antarctic Heritage Trust expedition to kayak around the Antarctic Peninsula with a group of young people.

Mr Hillary is halfway towards his goal of climbing the Seven Summits - the highest mountain on each continent.

He already has Mt Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Carstensz Pyramid (Papua New Guinea) and Mt Elbrus (Russia) under his belt, and hopes to attempt Denali, in Alaska, later in the year.

However, the next adventure after the Antarctic trip will be tackling a 6000m peak in the Himalayas, Lobuche, with his 18-year-old sister, Lily.

His father, an accomplished mountaineer and adventurer, had always been ''incredibly thoughtful and careful'' in allowing him to explore climbing on his own terms, he said.

''He really just waited until I was ready and enthusiastic to get into that and push that myself.

''But my whole life we've been scrambling around rocks on the coast, running up hills and skiing.

''When I got a bit older I decided I wanted to get into climbing a bit.''

He completed a bachelor's degree in industrial design, with honours, in Melbourne last year, and is also a photographer.

The airport store, which opened on February 3 and will operate for another two months, is a first for the clothing range, which was launched last August by the Hillary family in a joint venture with an Auckland clothing company.

Mr Hillary said a percentage of sales was going to the Edmund Hillary Brands Trust, which distributed funds to the Himalayan Trust and other charities in New Zealand, Nepal and the United Kingdom.

''First and foremost it's a business, but because philanthropy and giving back to the people of Nepal was so important to Ed, that's something that really had to be part of it.''

It was ''wonderful'' having visitors to the store telling him their stories about meeting his grandfather.

Add a Comment