Norman Hardie was in the first expedition to conquer Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak in Nepal and India.

Christchurch mountaineer Norman Hardie has died at the age of 92.

Hardie was in the first team to climb Kangchenjunga​, the third-highest mountain in the world, lying between Nepal and India, and more difficult to climb than Everest.

New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC) president John Palmer described Hardie as a “mountaineering great”.

Hardie adjusting oxygen equipment prior to an expedition to high altitude.Hardie adjusting oxygen equipment prior to an expedition to high altitude.

 “Norman was a kaumātua of the New Zealand mountaineering scene and will be sadly missed. As one of the pioneers of his time he made numerous first ascents both in New Zealand and the Himalaya, capped by the expedition success on Kangchenjunga in 1955,” he said.

Hardie was NZAC president from 1973 to 1975 and served on its committees for 20 years.

Hardie in the Antarctic.Hardie in the Antarctic.

He served on the boards of the Arthur’s Pass National Park and the Cragieburn Forest Park committee, and Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust New Zealand.

In the foreword to Hardie’s 2006 memoir, On My Own Two Feet, Hillary called him “a skilled mountaineer and a formidable explorer . . . renowned for his considerable determination and refusal to accept defeat”.

He was a peer of Hillary’s, joining him on several expeditions, including one to Antarctica to make the first ascent of Mt Herschel.

Hardie in 2015 prior to a return to Nepal for the 50th anniversary of climbing Kangchenjunga.Hardie in 2015 prior to a return to Nepal for the 50th anniversary of climbing Kangchenjunga.

He and Hillary honed their climbing skills in the Southern Alps and knew each other well – then rivals and friends.

In 2013, Hardie travelled to London to mark the 60th anniversary of Hillary’s greatest achievement.

“I never thought I would be there. It has great meaning to me. There are not many of the whole group left, ” Hardie said at the time.

Hardie also spent five months as leader of Scott Base.

He was a civil engineer and provided structural advice for buildings damaged in Nepal’s deadly 2015 earthquakes.

Hardie was a proponent of new ways to produce hydroelectric power, once pitching an idea to run a tunnel under the Southern Alps that would bring water from the West Coast to Canterbury and Otago.

Hardie is survived by his wife Enid Hardie, two daughters Sarah Jane Hardie and Ruth Wells, and  grandchildren Henry, Tamar and Roslyn Wells, and David Turton.

He spent his final years in the suburb of Spreydon and died peacefully on Tuesday night.


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