Peak Named in Honor of the ‘Keeper of the Mountains’
The documentary film The Keeper of the Mountains tells the story of US-born journalist Elizabeth Hawley who settled in Kathmandu in 1960 and in the years since has recorded details of more than 80,000 climbs in the mountainous country of Nepal. Miss Hawley continues to update the unofficial record, known as the Himalayan Database, interviewing climbers after their expeditions (in a process that some have jokingly referred to as ‘the second summit’) and noting details that often prove helpful to future climbers. In recognition of Miss Hawley’s dedication and outstanding contribution to mountaineering in Nepal, authorities recently named a peak in her honor and opened it to foreign climbers for the first time. Located in the Humla district in northwest Nepal, Peak Hawley stands at a height of 6,182 meters.
When Miss Hawley arrived in Kathmandu there was a growing interest in mountaineering, particularly after the publicity surrounding the summiting of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. As a correspondent for Reuters, she saw the potential for newsworthy stories and so she began to interview mountaineers and file reports on their experiences. Her decades of diligent and comprehensive record-keeping has resulted in a valuable archive on Himalayan mountaineering history and her work is trusted and used by publications and news organizations around the world – quite a feat for a single woman in a foreign country.
Miss Hawley was a friend of Sir Edmund Hillary, a man whom she describes as “the finest person I ever met”, and collaborated with other renowned mountaineers in compiling her records. She has been called upon to offer her opinion on confirming or refuting climbers’ accounts and claims of their achievements, which she does through interviews with sherpas, references to records on routes and other means. Certainly, she has made, and continues to make, an impression on the mountaineering culture of Nepal that will remain an indelible part of its history.
Of the country’s more than 1,300 mountains peaks 414 are open for climbing, but this number is increasing as more adventurers around the world try their hand at mountain climbing and visit the world’s iconic mountaineering destination. Now visitors to Nepal can add Peak Hawley to their list of mountains to conquer.