New Zealand's living legend, Sir Edmund Hillary, passed away this morning at 9am NZ time.
Born in July 1919, he was 88 years old.
Hillary was a mountaineer and explorer, famous for in late May 1953, along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, became the first climbers known to have reached the summit of Mount Everest.
Soon after the climb he famously said "We knocked the bastard off."
Hillary was part of the ninth British expedition to conquer Everest.
Hillary devoted his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through a Himalayan trust which he founded. Hillary built many schools and hospitals in the remote Himalaya region. He recalled that this was his most important achievement.
He is unique in being the only Knight of the Garter, which is given at the personal discretion of the Queen. This is bestowed to only 20 worldwide, and was not awarded it for government or royal service.
Hillary is also extremely rare for being featured on the bank notes of a western country, whilst living.
Besides monarchs, this is never done in case of later public indiscretions occur.
In 1999, the body of eccentric British mountaineer, George Mallory was discovered, high on Everest's slopes, who attempted to reach the summit in 1924, 29 years before Hilary’s climb. This revived theories that someone may have bet Hillary to the peak of the world's highest mountain.
UPDATE: Google News has 2,064 stories published on the death of Sir Edmund, also leading CNN. The Hillary family have accepted the NZ Government's offer of a state funeral. It is expected that a senior member of the British Royal family will also attend.
The world's only statue of Hillary in the tiny Mt Cook village "Aoraki", has been decorated with flowers and a black armband.
The Nepalise government granted honorary Nepali citizenship in 2003. Through Hillary's inspiration and trust, 26 schools, two hospitals, and an airport were built, along with scholarships for Sherpa children.
PS: Here's a YouTube interview of a fake Sir Edmund Hillary with Shaun Micallef on SBS's hilarious Newstopia, which will return on February 27th.
The Sir Ed interview starts at 2 min :36 sec. on the counter.