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Author Topic: Everest, still a challenge 50 years on  (Read 6328 times)


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Everest, still a challenge 50 years on
« on: Feb 20 2003, 16:07 »

February 17 2003
The 50th anniversary of the first climb to the top of Mount Everest will be marked in May, naturally, by an attempt to set a record on the world's tallest peak. It is one of the few things that has not changed since Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made it to the summit on May 29, 1953. Everyone still wants to make history, in whatever way they can.

These days, it is not such a bad effort just to dream up another first, much less achieve it. After 50 years and 1600-odd successful ascents, setting records is not so easy, unless you have an obscure disability, a novel ethnic origin or a suicidal imagination.

In recent years, people chasing records have skiied from the top, jumped in a paraglider - even snowboarded down. A blind man made it in 2001; last year, it was the turn of a man with one foot. Two years ago, Kasang Tendup entered the record books as the first Yak man on Everest.

Australian Everest veteran Tim Macartney-Snape said the record-setting mania reflected the expense of the endeavour. Adventurers without private wealth had to find sponsors, and making history caught their attention.

Mr Macartney-Snape has made the record books twice: in 1984 he and Greg Mortimer were the first Australians to make the top. Then in 1990 he was the first to hike Everest's 8850 metres from sea to summit.

This year, the record 17 teams planning to scale the summit in May is a tame first by comparison, but the number serves to underline the greatest challenge facing those who love the mountain: how to save it from being loved to death. It is the serious side of the 50th anniversary celebrations, which kick off in Melbourne tonight and end with festivities in Nepal in May.

Sir Edmund, 83, who will talk tonight at Sofitel Melbourne in a fund-raising event for his Himalayan Trust to help the Sherpas, has suggested Everest should be given a rest - the mountain's fragile environment is under severe pressure from the thousands of people crawling over it every year.

About 70 per cent of those who have made the top since 1953 have done so in the past 10 years; numbers have ballooned with the advent of guided commercial tours. At times there is a queue to step on to the summit for the photo opportunity.

The result is not the pristine wilderness that so awed Sir Edmund and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. They had to contend only with ice chasms and howling gales. Modern climbers have to pick their way through an estimated 15,000 kilograms of rubbish, including empty oxygen bottles, broken equipment and corpses; about 120 bodies remain on Everest, lost or too hard to retrieve.

Mr Macartney-Snape said the status of Everest had been diminished by the way it had been treated and the bad publicity about crowds and pollution. "You get the reports of the traffic jams and record numbers of people on top, and all of a sudden it seems commonplace when it is still a very extreme thing to do," he said.

"It is only the employment of a good backload of knowledge that has built up, and modern equipment and lighter, more available oxygen, that has made it easier.

"If you look back on the history of the 20th century, the ascent of Everest is a highlight, coming as it did in the middle of the century and after the world had been at war."

This story was found here.
"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche


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Re:Everest, still a challenge 50 years on
« Reply #1 on: Oct 9 2003, 03:24 »

about 120 bodies remain on Everest, lost or too hard to retrieve.

i think we need to do something about this. we need to have the nepalese government create a new department dedicated to getting the bodies off everest. they could be funded by climbing permits paid by teams. all we would have to do is raise a permit cost by a couple hundred dollars.
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