Elizabeth Hawley Himalayan Record Keeper

Born in the United States, Elizabeth Hawley, Nepal’s mountaineering record keeper, made Nepal as her other home till her death

Feb. 6, 2018, 9:12 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL.11, No.14, February 02, 2018 (Magh 19, 2074) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

A citizen is not only the person who can secure a certificate as such on the basis of birth. What is important for the nation is whether the citizen has contributed to enhance its prestige.

Many personalities have served in Nepal while promoting its strengths globally but they were not born in Nepal. Elizabeth Hawley was one of them.

Most of the Nepali people can claim that they have seen the mountains from their early childhood as they were born just beneath the mountains, only a few hundred can claim that they have done something for these same mountains.

Although she was born in the United States, Elizabeth Hawley was lured by the Himalayas of Nepal and, finally, she established herself as a record keeper of the Himalayas. When she died at the age of 94, she left many books to the world which highlight the Nepalese Himalayas, the height of the peaks, numbers of climbers and so on.

Hawley, a leading chronicler of expeditions on Himalayan peaks in Nepal, died at a private hospital in Kathmandu, her doctor said. She was 94.

Born in the United States, former journalist Hawley had lived alone in Nepal since 1960 and had become an unofficial arbiter of climbing-related disputes.

Although many young Nepalese do not know about her contributions, she put Nepal in global map with a number of book on the history of mountains and climbing.

Serving for long as an honorary consulate general of New Zeeland, Hawley had also seen the political transformation of Nepal. When she came to Nepal in 1960 as a reporter, late Hawley encountered with B.P. Koirala’s government. She covered the story of Koirala as a prime minister and leader in prison. Even BP. Koirala mentioned his encounter with Hawley as the first foreign correspondent to question him about his release.

Over the years, she became a highly-respected chronicler of mountain climbing in the Himalayan nation, which is home to eight of the world's 14 highest peaks, including Mount Everest.

Hawley, who was admitted to the CIWEC Hospital and Travel Medicine Centre in the Nepali capital, died of complications arising from pneumonia, said Prathiva Pandey, a doctor at the hospital.

The global climbing community has lost a "great friend", said Ang Tshering Sherpa, a former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

"But her memory will live on in the form of her life's work," Sherpa told Reuters.

Born in Chicago in 1923, Hawley began reporting for Reuters in 1962, nine years after the pioneering climb of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, opening the gates to global tourism in the mountainous nation.

Hawley managed the "Himalayan Database", a record of major climbs of the Nepali mountains, and a necessary endorsement for climbers to gain global fame by validating their achievements. The database is unofficial, but widely respected by climbers.

In the history of Nepal, Hawley was not the first American citizen making Nepal a home, supporting Nepal’s nationhood to flourish. Early Jesuits of St. Xavier School also came from America. Among many, late Stiller left a number of Nepalese history books, including the book on Nepal’s nation builder Prithvi Narayan Shah. 

Hawley died but she left for Nepal and the world many important documents related to mountaineering.

 

 

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