Monday, January 14, 2008

A Hero Dead.

Well, it was bound to happen, but all the old school hero's are pretty much gone. Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand died the other day after a nice, full life filled with things like, you know, being the first to climb Mount Everest.

These days, anyone with decent cardio and a big pocketful of money can go climb Everest. Last year, something like 250 people went up and down the mountain. People still die, frequently, climbing the beast, but to me the real adventure is gone, as is almost always the case with corporate sponsorship.

I am not going to sit here and pound out a heartfelt obituary to Hillary as much as to simply point out that this was a guy who became such a worldwide celebrity that the New Zealand government decided to put his face on their five dollar bill. Hillary took his fame and used it to open a bunch of schools in Nepal, an effort that continues still. Hillary never took his name out of the phonebook, never moved from his modest little farmhouse, and was generally a swell sort of guy. This is a guy who was a beekeeper, of all things, that was thrust into a spotlight that very few people ever feel, and he handled it like a champ.

The reason it's sad to see him go is that there just aren't people like Hillary to look up to anymore. There are certainly great people alive today, but there isn't anyone who went out and conquered something like Hillary did. Steve Fossett, he of the around the world hot air balloon flight, was maybe the closest "modern" adventurer around, but I can't think of anyone else offhand who is even close. It's also worth noting that Fossett is almost certainly dead now.

I am not real big on "hero" worship, but Hillary was the sort of cat that deserved that sort of attention, and he is dead, which sucks.

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