Credit: Shutterstock/Edmund Hillary

People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made history in 1953 as the first confirmed people to have summited the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest.

Born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1919, Edmund had a typically rural upbringing. His father, Percy, had been allocated a plot of land as a returning soldier from World War I and began keeping bees, an activity that the Hillary’s would develop a great affinity for. After Edmund had graduated grammar school and given higher education a good go, he gave up on formal education to become a beekeeper with his brother Rex. Together they tended 1,600 hives, while his mother became quite famous for breeding and selling queens and his father edited the journal The N.Z Honeybee.

At the outbreak of World War II, Edmund battled with his conscience and religious beliefs but eventually served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a navigator. It was while he was serving that he mentioned to a comrade that he would one day climb Mount Everest. After the war ended he dedicated himself to climbing, and between 1945 and 1952 he summited many peaks including New Zealand’s highest point, Aoraki / Mount Cook. After he and Sherpa Tenzing summited Everest, Edmund Hillary committed himself to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he established in 1960. His trust is credited with building schools and hospitals throughout the remote region and continues to provide support and assistance for education, healthcare, disaster relief and infrastructure improvements for the local peoples.