Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sir Hillary? What about Norgay?

It is with great sadness that I speak of Sir Edmund Hillary's death. I have always respected this man. He Climbed to the Zenith of Mt Everest. He did what few dared to do. He saw conventional wisdom and he laughed in its face. But what was great about Sir Edmund was not that he climbed the mountain. No, No. What made him great was that he climbed down the mountain, giving back to his people, caring for the people of Nepal: setting up schools, educating the locals, raising the standard of living for those who helped him the most.

While I was covering the NEJM article on Friday, Sir Edmund passed away. He was most noted for climbing Everest and reaching the zenith 7 times. More than any other non-Sherpa. Hillary loved his Sherpas so much that he went to Nepal more than 120 times. He set up hospitals, health clinics, airfields and schools.

The reason he loved his Sherpas was simply because he knew how good hearted and caring they were as a people.

I feel that Sir Edmund and Tenzing Norgay's relationship is an analogy for Medicine and the Gene Sherpas all over the world. The feat to climb the mountain known as personalized medicine with its lofty goals of genetic and genomic health for everyone will require just as much planning and care and partnership. Once we get to the top (Yes a true feat) the work is not finished, we must plan for what the next steps will be. We must give back to those who got us there. We must give to those who will get us there again hopefully 6 more times.

The Sherpa Says:

We must be prepared to educate, to heal, to build infrastructure, and to dedicate our lives to nurturing this dream known as Genomic Healthcare/Personalized Medicine. You see, our job as Sherpas is to get Medicine to that dream. But our job doesn't stop there! Many Thanks to Jonathan Freed for reminding me of this everyday.

1 comment:

nepalwriter said...

I had the privilege of meeting Sir Edmund Hillary twice, once in Colorado and once in Namche in the Everest region where I used to lead treks to the base camp. He dedicated his life to helping the Sherpas who were such a critical part of his first ascent. Beyond the Summit is the first work to dramatize their lives in fiction. Hillary's work in the area is mentioned frequently as well as his climbing partner, Tenzing Norgay.
Details of Sherpa culture and religion are interwoven in a tale of romance and high adventure. The story has something for everyone: a love affair between an American journalist and Sherpa guide, conflict between generations as the modern world challenges centuries of tradition, an expedition from the porter’s point of view.

Below are selections from reviews. To read the complete ones and excerpts go to [www]

Beyond the Summit, is the rare gem that shows us the triumphs and challenges of a major climb from the porter’s point of view. The love of two people from diverse cultures is the fiery centerpiece of a novel that leads its readers through harshly beautiful and highly dangerous territory to the roof of the world. Malcolm Campbell, book reviewer

Conflict and dialog keep this gripping story of destiny, romance and adventure moving from the first page to the last paragraph. LeBlanc has a genius for bonding her readers and her characters. I found I was empathizing in turn with each character as they faced their own personal crisis or trauma.
Richard Blake for Readers Views.

A gripping, gut-twisting expedition through the eyes of a porter reveals the heart and soul of Sherpas living in the shadows of Everest.

A hard-hitting blend of adventure and romance which deserves a spot in any serious fiction collection. Midwest Book Review

LeBlanc is equally adept at describing complex, elusive emotions and the beautiful, terrifying aspect of the Himalayan Mountains. Boulder Daily Camera

LeBlanc’s vivid description of the Himalayas and the climbing culture makes this a powerful read. Rocky Mt News Pick of the Week

A rich adventure into the heart of the Himalayan Kingdom. Fantastic story-telling from one who has been there.

This is the book to read before you embark on your pilgrimage to Nepal. The author knows and loves the people and the country, and makes you feel the cold thin air, the hard rocks of the mountains, the tough life of the Sherpa guides, and you learn to love them too. This is a higly literate, but also very readable book. Highly recommended.”
– John (college professor)

Memorable characters and harrowing encounters with the mountains keep the action moving with a vibrant balance of vivid description and dialogue. Literary Cafe Host, Healdsburg, CA

This superbly-crafted novel will land you in a world of unimaginable beauty, adventure, and romance. The love story will keep you awake at night with its vibrant tension and deep rich longing. Wick Downing, author of nine novels

Such vividly depicted images of the Everest region and the Sherpa people are the perfect scenario for the romance and adventure feats narrated. It’s a page-turner, so engrossing you end up wanting to visit Nepal! Not just novel, but perfect for those seeking to get acquainted with the culture of this country.
By Claudia Fournier (América, Bs. As., Argentina)

Available through Barnes and Noble, Borders,,, and the web site