Hillary's footsteps followed in Antarctica

02:14, May 29 2013
sir ed landscape
FOOTSTEPS: Mike Rowe steps in Sir Edmund Hillary's icy footprints on Crater Hill in Antarctica today to celebrate his 60th anniversary of climbing Mt Everest.

Sir Edmund Hillary's famous footsteps have been followed today in Antarctica to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his world-first ascent of Mt Everest.

Antarctica New Zealand's winter field support officer Mike Rowe and winter base leader Becky Goodsell hiked up the 335-metre Crater Hill behind Scott Base this morning in darkness and bone-chilling temperatures.

They carried an ice axe that Hillary signed and donated to Scott Base on one of his Antarctic trips, proudly placing the New Zealand flag at the hill's summit to honour his achievement on the world's highest peak.

Rowe said Crater Hill was a recreation route used regularly by Hillary when visiting Antarctica.

''Looking down over the distant lights of Scott Base, we felt close to New Zealand's favourite hero,'' he said.

Goodsell said she thought that at -42 degrees Celsius, even Hillary would have found it a bit chilly.

Some of Antarctica New Zealand's Christchurch-based staff planned to head to the International Antarctica Attraction this afternoon in the same full protective gear that staff wore on the Ice to pay their respects to Hillary's achievements. 

Only a few months after he climbed Everest on May 29, 1953, he was asked to join the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1955-58, which aimed to be the first to cross the frozen continent.

He led the expedition's New Zealand component, setting up Scott Base and laying food and fuel depots for the British crossing party.

However, Hillary famously claimed another world first while there, leading a tractor dash to the South Pole.

In January 1958, his party became the first to reach the pole overland since Robert Scott's doomed expedition in 1912 and the first by motor vehicle.


The Press