From the Editorial Team: Once again, we come across a clichéd yet undeniable reality of theworld’s interconnectedness. Aswe undertook the task of compiling materials for the seventieth anniversary celebration of Edmund Hillary’s triumphant ascent of Everest, we chanced upon yet another captivating link that unites us, the Russian speakers residing in New Zealand, with the esteemed national hero of this country.

It happened quite a while back, around three decades ago. We had freshly arrived in New Zealand. From my school days, I remembered the names of two distinguished New Zealand personalities – Rutherford and Hillary. While the former, for evident reasons, was beyond reach, the prospect of encountering Edmund Hillary intrigued me immensely, especially upon discovering that he resided in Auckland.

Back in the day, every telephone booth in the country was equipped with a comprehensive address and phone directory. Thus, locating Hillary’s contact details was not a formidable task. Summoning my courage, I made a call. It was a woman who answered the phone – she turned out to be June, Edmund Hillary’s wife. We arranged to meet. At the appointed time, I headed to their residence in Remuera, carrying books authored by Hillary himself and five-dollar bills bearing his portrait, which I had prepared the day before. June opened the door (curiously, Hillary referred to her as May). Emerging from the dimness of the interior was a tall figure (standing nearly two meters in height), with a sturdy and well groomed appearance. A palpable sense of strength, or perhaps I could even venture to say, power, emanated from him. It immediately occurred to me how expansive his strides must have been, and the challenge his expedition companions must have faced in keeping up. He extended a broad hand, and despite my nervousness, I managed to utter words of admiration and assurances of his recognition and esteem in Russia. Humbly, I requested his signature on books and banknotes… 

On the first photo is Sir Hillary’s autograph.

Several years have passed since that time. During a visit to Moscow, memories of my encounter back in 1981 with Eduard Myslovsky, the first Soviet climber to conquer Everest alongside Vladimir Balyberdin, came flooding back. In our discussion back then, he shared insights into the preparations for the inaugural Soviet expedition to Everest. This sparked an idea with me: why not present a meaningful token from our climbers to Sir Hillary? I promptly contacted the Mountaineering Association with this concept. A couple of days later, I received a small pennant, which was subsequently presented to Edmund Hillary by members of our family. Like a relay baton, the pennant journeyed from Moscow to Auckland. Here, I followed the same procedure for address verification, which remained unchanged. Our daughter, accompanied by her young son, took on the responsibility of presenting the pennant. Hillary was deeply touched by the consideration shown by the Russian mountaineers. Although brief, such encounters with remarkable and renowned people linger in memory, leaving an indelible mark. 

                From the recollections of members of the Mananov family, Auckland-Sydney