THE last surviving member of the team which first conquered Everest in 1953 has died at the age of 89.
George Lowe died at a nursing home in Ripley, Derbyshire, on Thursday night after suffering from a long-term illness, with his wife Mary by his side.
Mr Lowe, who was born in New Zealand, was part of the team that helped Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgary to become the first to reach the top of the world’s highest peak on May 29 1953.
As Sir Edmund, a close friend and fellow New Zealander, descended Mount Everest the next day, he greeted Mr Lowe with: “Well, George, we knocked the bastard off.”
Following his Everest climb, Mr Lowe went on to take part in the Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1957-58, which made the first successful overland crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole.
He later made expeditions to Greenland, Greece and Ethiopia, before settling in England and becoming an Inspector of Schools with the Department of Education and Sciences before retiring in 1984.
Family friend and historian Dr Huw Lewis-Jones paid tribute yesterday to a “gentle soul and fine climber” who shunned the limelight.
Born in Hastings, New Zealand, Mr Lowe became a school teacher and spent his holidays climbing in the Southern Alps, where he met Sir Edmund.
The pair became friends and in 1951 were members of the first New Zealand expedition to the Himalayas.
They went on to join the British Everest expedition led by British Army Colonel John Hunt and to conquer the 29,028 feet mountain in 1953, days before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Mr Lowe is survived by wife Mary and three sons from his first marriage to Lord Hunt’s daughter Susan.