11 Aug 2011

South Ridge of Mt Cook to be renamed Hillary Ridge

5:11 am on 11 August 2011

The South Ridge of Aoraki/Mount Cook is to be renamed Hillary Ridge.

The Geographic Board had recommended the alteration to the name.

Sir Edmund Hillary, Harry Ayres, Mick Sullivan and Ruth Adams made the first successful ascent of South Ridge in 1948.

Land Information Minister Minister Maurice Williamson says Sir Edmund made an enormous contribution to New Zealand and abroad, and it is befitting and appropriate his contribution be acknowledged with the Hillary Ridge name change.

He says his decision was made with the greatest respect to the other accomplished climbers and their families.

But Sir Edmund's widow, Lady Hillary, is disappointed by the announcement, saying she is not sure her husband would have wanted this.

"Harry Ayres was his mentor and he and Mick Sullivan led them to the top, so I think Ed would look sideways at the mountain being named after him. But if it's happened, then I accept it."

The change will become official on 18 August when gazetted by the Geographic Board.

In 1953, Sir Edmund together with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to conquer Mt Everest. The adventurer went on to lead several expeditions and in the 1960s set up the Himalayan Trust, helping the people of Nepal.

Sir Edmund died of a heart attack in Auckland on 11 January 2008, aged 88.