Renaming peak for Sir Ed meets resistance

By Jarrod Booker

A proposal to rename the first mountain Sir Edmund Hillary climbed is meeting stiff resistance from a descendant of the man whose name it bears.

Mt Cook Village's Hermitage Hotel, the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre and Alpine Guides have all suggested Mt Ollivier is the most suitable peak to name after Sir Edmund as a memorial.

It was the site of his first real mountain climb in 1939, and he later described it as the happiest day of his life.

It has been suggested Mt Ollivier could become Mt Sir Edmund Hillary, or Mt Hillary.

Mt Ollivier was originally named to recognise the exploits of early mountaineer and prominent Canterbury personality Arthur Ollivier, who died in 1897. And his great-grandson Kim Ollivier, of Auckland, is not about to give up the name without a fight.

"I also don't think it would be supported by Sir Ed. He was very proud of the history, and he would have been aware of the early pioneers, including Arthur," Mr Ollivier told the Herald.

Hermitage hotel general manager Denis Callesen and Alpine Guides managing director Bryan Carter have both said they had checked the history of the Mt Ollivier name and believed it could be changed.

But Mr Ollivier said a plaque at the Mt Cook Village mentioning his great-grandfather's exploits should have dissuaded them.

Charlie Hobbs, an experienced mountain guide and friend of Sir Ed's, has also come out against the Mt Ollivier proposal.

"Sir Ed always used to say 'There's my first peak - Mt Ollivier'. The idea of naming a peak after Sir Ed would be a fine tribute, but not Sir Ed's first peak.

"Mt Ollivier was Sir Ed's first peak, not Mt Hillary. Generations of young climbers will want to know 'Where's Mt Ollivier, the first peak Sir Edmund Hillary climbed?'."

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