In just a few short days, hundred of climbers will begin to descend on Kathmandu where they’ll collect their gear, finish last minute preparations, and then depart for a variety of Himalayan peaks. Each of them will be focused on reaching their respective summits, often spending weeks toiling away on the mountain just to stand on top for a few minutes. But as Outside Magazine notes in their profile of Miss Elizabeth Hawley, the summit doesn’t count until she says so.
For those that don’t know, Miss Hawley is a fixture in the Himalayan climbing community. The 87-year old woman has been in Nepal for 60 years, documenting and recording every climb up every peak. Many climbers stop by to pay homage and discuss their climb before they set out, then again on their return to Kathmandu, where they are often quizzed about their expedition. To say she has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Himalaya is almost selling Miss Hawley short.
The Outside article talks about her meticulous record and how the are the definitive source for all climbs that take place in the Himalaya. They also quote climbers like Reinhold Messner who even defers to Hawley and her impressive stockpile of information. All told, she has conducted more than 15,000 interviews in her illustrious career, and it doesn’t appear that she’ll stop anytime soon.
As the 2011 Himalayan Season dawns, this article is a great place to kick off the coverage. After all, Miss Hawley remains the Queen of the Mountains, even though she has never climbed one herself.
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