Leading article: Higher calling

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The Independent Online

Amid the accolades for Sir Edmund Hillary, we cannot but draw unfavourable comparisons between his career and the behaviour of many modern Everest mountaineers.

The slopes of Everest, pristine when scaled by Sir Edmund in 1953, are today strewn with tons of rubbish. The careless pollution grew to disgust Sir Edmund in later years.

The friendship between Sir Edward and his co-climber Tenzing Norgay was enduring. And after 1953, Sir Edmund used his celebrity to improve the lives of the Sherpas. Today Sherpas, though adequately paid, are often regarded as little more than human packhorses by the thousands of climbers who arrive every year.

Those minded to follow in Sir Edmund's footsteps should reflect that it was not climbing the world's highest mountain that made him so loved in Nepal. It was his contribution to the region and his respect for its people.