Elizabeth Hawley has Passed Away

Elizabeth Hawley, chronicler of Himalayan expeditions, died of pneumonia early Friday morning, according to the officials in the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. She was 95.

Ministry official Gyanendra Kumar Shrestha informed, Hawley, the founder of the Himalayan Database, breathed her last at the CIWEC Hospital — a travel medicine centre to treat foreign diplomats and aid workers in Nepal — at around 3:00 am today. She was admitted to the hospital a week before.

Elizabeth Hawley
Photo Courtesy: Billi Bierling
Miss Hawley, who first arrived Kathmandu in February 1958, made Nepal her second home. The government has also conferred honorary Nepali citizenship on Hawley.

French ice climber Francois Damilano named a peak in Nepal after Elizabeth Hawley. Damilano made a solo first ascent of Peak Hawley (6,182 metres) in the Dhaulagiri Mountain Range on May 9, 2008, after climbing 7,242-metre Putha Hiunchuli.

Jeevan Shrestha, who worked closely with Hawley for the Himalayan Database said that her family members and relatives in the United States have been informed of her demise. It is yet to be decided whether or not to send her body to the US, informed Shrestha.

Journalist and German climber Billi Bierling, who had worked with Liz Hawley since 2004, is arriving Nepal from Germany later today.

Billi wrote on her Facebook page, “I am very saddened to announce that after a short battle in hospital, Elizabeth Hawley has left us. Personally, I cannot put it into words how much this amazing woman has meant to me, how much she has taught me and how much I will miss her in my life.”

“Thanks Miss Hawley for having shared so much of your life with me, for allowing me to get to know you so well and to become your friend. I treasure all the moments we spent together — even the ones when I irritated you for not spelling a name correctly or being too late for our meeting…or having badly brushed hair! I feel very privileged to have spent all that time with you.”

“We will try and keep up Miss Hawley’s work but of course today the Himalayan climbing world has lost one of its most important pillars. You will be missed, Miss Hawley.”

“The people that have inspired me most in my life all exhibit an uncanny alignment of place and purpose – almost creating their own gravity and momentum through a deep power of vision and focus. I’m just trying to adequately describe why Ms. Hawley was so extraordinary. And, of course, failing,” Ben Ayers, country director for dZi Foundation Nepal, described.

She changed Himalayan Mountaineering entirely without ever setting foot on a glaciated peak, he shared on his Facebook page, adding that she found her purpose here in Nepal and followed it to the very end. “She changed the world as I know it. She did a tremendous amount of good.”

Her example has always helped me think about how to be useful in Nepal while being true to myself – in this vein, she was unique, he said.

“I trust she’s off schooling young journalists in the bardo somewhere, riding her ample karma towards her next adventure.”

Born in 1923 and educated at the University of Michigan, Elizabeth Hawley had been living in Kathmandu ever since her second visit to Nepal in 1960. She had been working with the Reuters news agency covering mountaineering news, including the 1963 American expedition that was the first from the US to traverse Mount Everest.

For many years, until August, 2010, she was also New Zealand’s honorary consul in Nepal.

Source: The Himalayan Times

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