Very sad last night to learn that outdoor legend Sir Ed Hillary has died at the age of 88.
It doesn’t really need me to say that the first guy to climb Everest was a hero, one whose legacy will continue to inspire generations of folks into the hills and mountains for decades to come. Kiwis recently voted him their most trustworthy figure but he was more than that – he was an ambassador for mountaineering and exploration, and an example to all those who love the outdoors.
But it also seems a trifle sad that news of his death came through last night, just after I’d learned of a competition being run by a French outdoor firm in which you could win wait for it the chance to summit Everest.
I’m not going to say too much about the matter, as I’d never pretend that climbing or top-end mountaineering were specialist subjects of mine most of what you’ll read here will be about backpacking worldwide, long distance walks or scaling the mountains, moors and fells of the British isles.
It just seems a little naive, distasteful even, to offer such a prize up to all and sundry. No doubt the folks … sorry, les folkes… running the contest will ensure that the eventual winner knows how to strap on his or her crampons, and that the Starbucks at Everest Basecamp doesn’t take credit cards (come to think of it, it probably does).
What prizes will we be offered next? A day’s drag racing in Richard Hammond’s passenger seat? Mountain biking holidays on Matthew Parris’s private estate? Even more frighteningly, a day among the crevasses and collapsing towers in Chris Townsend’s gear store?
This is a good outdoor gear company we’re talking about one of the best but perhaps there’d be more sense in offering their competition winner a nice warm fleece (sorry, soft shell), a cagoule (sorry… technical waterproof outer protective layer), a copy of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, and a £2000 voucher to spend on a trek of their choice.
Ah, each to their own.
It’s no good pretending Sir Ed will be “spinning in his grave”, as they say; I don’t think he would have even heard about this little promotional whizz. But he always had the utmost respect for the mountain and I reckon he’d have a few wise words to level at the idea of reducing the peak’s challenge to the level of a draw prize.
I’ve uploaded the flyer for the Everest promotion here, just in case you need a holiday… well, more for information really.
But good luck – let me know if you win.