‘Sherlock Holmes’ of Nepal’s Himalayas dies at 94

In this photograph taken on May 9, 2014, Elizabeth Hawley holds files as she speaks during an interview in Kathmandu. Hawley founded the Himalayan Database, a meticulous archive of all mountaineering expeditions in Nepal that she managed until five years ago. (AFP)
Updated 26 January 2018

‘Sherlock Holmes’ of Nepal’s Himalayas dies at 94

KATMANDU: American journalist Elizabeth Hawley, whose 50 years chronicling summits and tragedies in the Himalayas earned her the moniker “the Sherlock Holmes of the mountaineering world,” died Friday, aged 94.
Hawley built a reputation as one of the most authoritative voices on Himalayan mountaineering after moving to Nepal in 1959 as a journalist, where she continued to live up to her death.
“She had a very peaceful death,” doctor Prativa Pandey, who looked after Hawley at the end of her life, said.
She passed away at a hospital in Nepal’s capital Katmandu in the early hours of Friday, a week after falling ill with a lung infection. She later likely suffered a stroke, Pandey said.
Hawley founded the Himalayan Database, a meticulous archive of all mountaineering expeditions in Nepal that she managed until five years ago.
Known for ferreting out the truth from climbers claiming to set new records, her word on summits in the fabled mountains was considered final, though she never climbed any peaks herself.
Every climbing season Hawley — behind the wheel of her 1965 sky-blue VW Beetle — would drive to mountaineers’ hotels in Katmandu to grill them before and after their expeditions.
“I guess I am quite forceful, I come to the point and if someone thinks they can evade my questions, they can think again,” she said in a 2014 interview.
Billi Bierling, a journalist and climber who took over managing the Himalayan Database in recent years, remembered Hawley as a stickler for accuracy who would keep calling a source until she was satisfied she had the answer.
“The mountaineering world today has lost of its most important pillars. Even though Liz Hawley was never a climber, she never wore crampons, she was interested in the people,” Bierling said.
Tributes for Hawley poured in from mountaineers around the world.
“Katmandu will be a lesser place without her and her original VW beetle,” wrote 12-time Everest summiteer Kenton Cool on Twitter, describing her as the “Oracle of Himalayan climbing.”
Elizabeth Ann Hawley was born on November 9, 1923 to a Chicago-based chartered accountant and a suffragist.
She attended university in Michigan and promptly moved to Manhattan after graduation in 1946, landing a job as a researcher with Fortune magazine.
The job bored her and she took off to see the world in 1957, finally ending up in Nepal in February 1959, then a Hindu kingdom which had only recently opened its gates to foreign visitors.
Hawley eventually became a correspondent for the Reuters news agency in Nepal and landed her first major scoop during the 1963 US expedition to Everest.
The American military attaché offered her access to secret radio communication between Everest base camp and the embassy, enabling her to be the first to file when they reached the summit.
In 2014, Nepal named a 6,182-meter mountain in her honor: Peak Hawley in the country’s northwest.
“I retire when I die. It might be the same thing,” Hawley said in her book “The Nepal Scene,” a collection of monthly dispatches she wrote until 2007.


‘Mission: Impossible VII’ halts Italy filming over coronavirus

Updated 25 February 2020

‘Mission: Impossible VII’ halts Italy filming over coronavirus

  • Seventh installment of ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise was scheduled to shoot in Venice for three weeks
  • taly reported its seventh death from the new coronavirus on Monday

WASHINGTON: Production on the latest film in the “Mission: Impossible” series starring Tom Cruise has been stopped in Italy following the outbreak of coronavirus cases, US media reported Monday.
According to entertainment specialist The Wrap, the seventh installment of the Paramount Pictures franchise was scheduled to shoot in Venice for three weeks.
“Out of an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our cast and crew, and efforts of the local Venetian government to halt public gatherings in response to the threat of coronavirus, we are altering the production plan for our three-week shoot in Venice,” a Paramount spokesperson said in a statement to The Wrap.
The spokesperson added that Cruise had not traveled to Italy, and that crew members were allowed to return home until production started.
Italy reported its seventh death from the new coronavirus Monday, but officials called for calm and reported a lower rise in the number of infections after a spike over the weekend.
The number of cases now stood at 229, the head of Italy’s civil protection department Angelo Borelli said at a press conference on Monday evening, the highest number in Europe.
In addition to “MI7,” the spread of the virus has disrupted high-profile events including Milan Fashion Week and the Venice Carnival. On Monday evening, sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora announced that six Serie A football matches would be played behind closed doors.
“Mission: Impossible VII” is due in theaters on July 23, 2021.