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category: Sports & Recreation
published: Oct 2012
publisher: RMB | Rocky Mountain Books

Keeper of the Mountains

The Elizabeth Hawley Story

by Bernadette McDonald, foreword by Sir Edmund Hillary

tagged: mountaineering, central, adventurers & explorers

Beginning in 1946, Elizabeth Hawley worked for Fortune magazine as a researcher. Shortly thereafter, she left both her job and the United States itself to travel the world, and thus began her lifelong attraction to the exotic and remote sovereign state of Nepal. In the years that followed, she began reporting on the political and cultural events taking place in her adopted homeland for the likes of Reuters and Time Inc., letting the world in on the strange community of mountaineers, pilgrims and politicians who were descending on Kathmandu, whether in search of adventure, enlightenment or prestige.


Despite the fact that Elizabeth Hawley has never climbed a mountain or visited the hallowed grounds of Everest base camp, she has become the most important record keeper and inspirational authority figure regarding the expeditions, stories, feats, scandals and disasters in the Nepal Himalaya. Now 90 years of age, she has commanded the respect of such legendary personalities as Edmund Hillary, Reinhold Messner, Chris Bonington, Toma? Humar and Ed Viesturs.


With production under way on a film examining her life and legacy, it is likely that Hawley will continue to hold a special place in the hearts and minds of all visitors looking to experience the legend and grandeur of the world’s most celebrated mountain landscape.

About the Authors

Bernadette McDonald

Sir Edmund Hillary

Editorial Reviews

No one has a wider knowledge of Himalayan mountaineering [than Elizabeth Hawley]. She is respected and admired by all the famous climbers . . . I am particularly pleased that her unique and eventful life has finally been documented, as she has lived through interesting times, in fascinating places, with some remarkable people. May she long remain her very special, formidable self.—Sir Edmund Hillary

. . . much more than an admirable biography of an intriguing woman. While throwing open the curtains on the enigmatic life of Elizabeth Hawley, Bernadette McDonald provides a crash course in the history of Himalayan mountaineering, crammed with engaging renderings of the numerous characters whose lives intersected with Hawley's over the past 45 years in Kathmandu—a quirky cast ranging from Sir Edmund Hillary to Hillary Clinton, Boris Lissanevitch to Babu Chiri, Reinhold Messner to Jimmy Carter. —Jon Krakauer

I could not put this book down . . . Well written . . . Amazing stories . . . I certainly learned a great deal about Miss Hawley . . . This book must be read by all Himalayan climbers as it shows what an incredible lady she is.—Tashi Tenzing

There is just one person who knows all about the history of Himalayan climbing, from the first ascent of Mount Everest by Hillary and Tenzing to our days: Elizabeth Hawley. Meeting with all the famous climbers, she has built a mountain of information. Finally, we have a glimpse of those fascinating stories, and of the enigmatic Hawley herself.—Reinhold Messner

Congratulations to Bernadette McDonald for her meticulously researched biography of an indomitable woman. Elizabeth Hawley's life and work defined the scope of Himalayan climbing during the last four decades. The engaging writing and deft details . . . vividly bring to life Elizabeth, her extraordinary life in the magical kingdom of Nepal, and the world's best mountaineers.—Arlene Blum, author of Annapurna: A Woman's Place and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life

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