I first met Liz Hawley in 1991, as the leader of the American Annapurna IV expedition, when she came to interview me at the Malla Hotel in Kathmandu. She was armed with the results of all of the previous expeditions to Annapurna IV, while I had prepared a spreadsheet taken from pastAmerican Alpine Journals showing the arrival and summit dates of the previous teams in order to make an estimate of the amount of supplies that would be needed for the climb.
Given what we both had, I suggested to Liz that we collaborate on building a database for her records. Liz initially declined, saying that she was already working with a Nepali computer student to do this. But a year later, in 1992, she contacted me to say that her student had run off to graduate school in Arkansas and probably would never return to Nepal.
Thus began a multi-year project to design and enter her records into the database that the American Alpine Club published in 2004 as the Himalayan Database. Over 10,000 hours were spent entering the vast amount of information Liz had collected and stored in her wall-to-wall cabinets since she met the first American Everest expedition in 1963.
When the database was published, I hoped that we might be able to continue updating it for four or five years, as Liz was then 80 years old. But she continued to thrive and we kept going strong, keeping the database up to date with all of the new teams coming to Nepal. With Billi Bierling now at the helm, we expect to continue for many years into the future.
I feel blessed to have had such a wonderful working relationship with Liz for 25 years and will greatly miss seeing her when I again come to Kathmandu again.
– Richard Salisbury
Bernadette McDonald's In Memoriam tribute to Elizabeth Hawley in AAJ 2018 can be found here.