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1953 Everest Connection

hunt on mountain The Himalayan Trust is a direct legacy of the British 1953 Everest expedition that put Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on the summit of Everest. Without the support of the Sherpas, Everest wouldn’t have been climbed, and Sir Ed wouldn’t have had half as much fun climbing in the Himalayas following Everest as well. It was Sir Edmund Hillary and his NZ companion George Lowe who first felt a compulsion to give something back to the Sherpas who had so enriched their lives. Sir Edmund Hillary’s vision led to the first support for the Everest region.

The Himalayan Trust UK was set up to support Sir Edmund Hillary’s work for the Sherpas in Nepal, in 1989. Lord Hunt, leader of the 1953 expedition, was patron of the Himalayan Trust UK until his death in 1998, and the Trust is proud to have maintained its Everest 1953 connection to this day. The two Georges – Lowe and Band – both Everest 1953 climbers, were actively involved from the start, with George Lowe, who sadly passed away on 20 March 2013, as inaugural chairman until September 2003, and George Band taking the helm as chairman until his death in the summer of 2011. The Trust was delighted that Michael Westmacott, who played a key role pioneering and maintaining a route through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall in 1953, accepted an invitation to be a trustee, until he sadly passed away in 2012. It has been a year of great loss for The Himalayan Trust UK, and for Everest, but happily members of three 1953 Everest families are still actively involved today, with George Lowe’s widow Mary continuing her stoic work as secretary, and George Band’s widow Susan and John Hunt’s daughter Sue Leyden as dedicated trustees.

Dr George Lowe CNZW, OBE, Himalayan Trust Chairman 1989 – 2003, and Patron 2008-2013

George Lowe was the ‘other Kiwi’ on Colonel John Hunt’s British expedition to Mount Expedition in 1953, and a lifelong friend of Sir Edmund Hillary. With Alf Gregory and Ang Nima Sherpa, Lowe supported the summit pair and fixed the highest camp on Everest just 300m from the summit. Following Everest, Lowe continued to adventure and explore, most notably as filmmaker on Sir Vivian Fuchs’ Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1955-58. Professionally he was a teacher and worked at Repton School in Derbyshire, as Principal of a school in Chile, and Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools in England. Lowe served as the inaugural Chairman of The Himalayan Trust UK from 1989 to 2003, then as a Trustee until 2008, and Patron until his death in 2013.

George Band OBE, Himalayan Trust UK Chairman 2003-2011

Aged 23, George Band was the youngest climber on the 1953 British expedition to Mount Everest. Two years on, he and Joe Brown were the first to climb Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. Following these early mountaineering successes, George Band spent most of his professional life in oil and gas exploration but he continued to climb and escort treks in the greater ranges until late in life. George served in just about every role there is in the mountaineering community, including President of the Alpine Club and British Mountaineering Council, and Chairman of the Mount Everest Foundation. He also sat on the council of the Royal Geographical Society. He wrote several books, including Everest 50 Years on Top of the World for the MEF, and Summit, a book celebrating 150 years of the Alpine Club. In 2003, he succeeded George Lowe as Chairman of the Himalayan Trust UK – a position he held with utter dedication until his death on 26 August 2011, aged 82. His dying wish was that the Trust’s work in the Taplejung district of Nepal should continue and grow.