Nepal mountaineering record keeper Hawley dies at age 94

AP News
Posted: Jan 26, 2018 7:42 AM

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Elizabeth Hawley, an American journalist who kept records of mountaineers on Nepal's highest peaks, died Friday. She was 94.

Hawley had been living in Nepal since 1960 and was the unofficial record keeper of mountaineering activities in the country, which has eight of the world's 14 highest peaks, including Mount Everest.

A doctor at the CIWEC Hospital and Travel Medicine Centre in Kathmandu, Prathiva Pandey, said she had been hospitalized for a week and died Friday because of complications from pneumonia.

Hawley maintained the "Himalayan Database," considered the unofficial record book for mountaineering. Both Nepal and China do not maintain complete records of mountaineering activities.

She was respected in the mountaineering community both in Nepal and abroad.

Although she never climbed any mountain, she often had the final say in any disputes or claims by climbers. It was often said that if her record did not say that a mountaineer climbed a particular peak in Nepal, then it never happened.

Mountaineers would often meet her before and after their climbs, when she would make them answer difficult questions.

"She was a legend in the mountaineering community and it is a big loss to all of us," said Ang Tshering, former head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. "Now our focus should be to continue her work to honor her."

Born in Chicago, Illinois, she traveled to Nepal in 1960 and later became a correspondent for the Reuters news agency.

Nepal honored Hawley for her contributions by naming a mountain in the northwest after her in 2014.

Peak Hawley, which is 6,182 meters (20,330 feet) high, is open for climbers.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.