|Saturday, June 3, 2000||
"WE must remember that mans relationship with mountains is not merely one of stern struggle. There is much more in it than rubbing our noses against a vertical rock. We must not forget that mountains are not merely to be conquered but solace for the soul." These were the words of Sir John Hunt, who planned and led the successful ascent of Everest, which transformed him from a virtually unknown figure into a national hero, and an international figure. He strongly felt and propagated that when mountaineers are exposed to hardships and dangers, it brings about a close comradeship which breaks all barriers of race, creed and language.
Henry Cecil John Hunt was born in 1910 in Shimla in India. His father was on officer in the Indian Army, and was killed in the early stages of World War I. John studied in a school in Marlborough. During his vacations his mother would take him to the Alps. It was here that he learned to climb. At the age of 18, he topped the entrance examination to Sandhurst and passed out first and became an army officer. He won the Kings medal and the Anson Memorial Award and was then commissioned in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps. A mountaineer of great ability and strong at heart, he climbed whenever he got an opportunity to do so. As a young lieutenant, serving his regiment in India, he spent his leave along with another officer in exploring the areas around Peak 36, a 24,400 ft summit in the Saltoro range of the Karakoram in the North West of India.
|They tried to make it to the summit too,
but bad weather conditions didnt permit them to
move ahead. Over the years his Himalayan experience
increased. He was even appointed the Chief Instructor at
the Mountain Warfare and Winter Warfare school at
Braemar, in the Cairngorms. Later in 1945, he organised
Mountain Training Courses for the Indian and Scottish
troops, on the slopes of Mount Olympus. With a team ofn
other officers he explored relatively unknown mountains
of Greece. He even climbed Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain
in Sinai. In 1952 he received an invitation from the
Himalyan Committee, asking him to lead the expedition to
the Himalayas. Since numerous attempts to conquer the
Everest had failed, John Hunt knew that the whole world
was waiting for the final success. An excellent team was
selected and after intensive preparations, overcoming all
barriers. Mt Everest was conquered in May 1953. Hillary
and Tenzing made the successful assault. Of course their
achievement overshadowed most of the part played by John
Hunt himself, but we all know that preparations,
groundwork, proper planning and taking major decisions
are priceless contributions for any success. He even said
"It was tempting to go for the top myself but
Im sure that Ive chosen the best men for the
job and that my position enables me to control the
business and make decisions on the spot.."
His book Ascent of Everest gives a vivid account of this remarkable expedition. He retired from the British Army in 1956 as a Brigadier. He also became director of the Duke of Edinburghs Award Scheme from 1956 to 1966. He received his peerage in 1966. He helped in setting up the Mount Everest Foundation, a fund built up from the proceeds of the books, films and lectures of the Everest expedition. He even felt that this expedition aroused a great interest in mountaineering all over the World. We all must remember, like most mountaineers feel, "something sublime is the essence of mountaineering.
The funds are used to support explorations in mountain areas.