There are a number of legendary men who cast large shadows over the world of mountaineering. Men like George Mallory, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Reinhold Messener, whose exploits in the mountains are told around campfires from the Karakorum to the Andes. But there is a woman who stands with these legends and casts a large shadow of her own. Her name is Elizabeth Hawley, and even the most accomplished mountaineers must pay homage to this Himalayan Queen.
The 85 year old Miss Hawley, as she is known amongst the climbers, first traveled to Nepal in 1960, and she hasn’t left since. She became transfixed by the mountains and the culture of the people that live there, and was drawn to the men who climb the big peaks of the Himalaya. Her training as a journalist compelled her to tell their stories, and soon, she was chronciling all of the major climbs.
Today, nearly 50 years later, she is recognized as the utmost authority on Himalayan climbing, and she still meets with each and every expedition that comes through Kathmandu. Miss Hawley is known for her incredible memory, and she will usually quiz climbers about their plans before they set out to the mountains, and then mercilessly debrief them about the climb upon their return. Often times she has the final say on whether or not an expedition is deemed as having successfully reached the summit, and her Himalayan Database is updated yearly to reflect all the latest climbs. Once entered into that database however, a mountaineer is immortalized, and their story is certified by the indomitable Miss Hawley.
To find out more about this amazing woman, checkout her biographay I’ll Call You in Kathmandu.