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Everest 50th anniversary

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Mount Everest was first climbed 50 years ago today by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Clebrations are mared by a helicopter crash at Base Camp in Nepal, killing 2 and wounding at least 7.



The latest news from Everest is tragic. At 10.15 yesterday morning a Russian built M-17 helicopter belonging to Simrik Air crashed close to Everest Base Camp in Nepal.

According to reports, the crash resulted in two deaths and at least seven people wounded. The news about the crash made headline news around the world, and the BBC images were transmitted on all major TV networks.

Destiny seems to have wanted to mar the highly anticipated 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest, first climbed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay half a century ago to the day. Since then over 1500 people have reached the highest point on this planet, and celebrations are currently underway in Nepal with the likes of Himalayan greats such as Hillary and Messner.

During the last couple of days ascents of Everest have continued, most of which were carried out with the use of supplementary oxygen. Fragmented and incomplete accounts, even in this age of internet, make detailed reporting a complicated task, but Everest continues to be the mountain where records are created and broken. These include record ascent times, established recently by ten-times summiter Lakpa Ghelu Sherpa in 10 hrs, 46 mins, and Sibusiso Vilane’s ascent on 26 May. From Swaziland, Vilane is the first black African to summit Everest.

Detailed information about the Everest Speed Expedition now enables us to provide you with a complete report. Manuela Di Centa reached the summit with the use of supplementary oxygen, which she started using at 7300m. The oxygen bottles were carried by Sherpa Dorjie, who has summited Everest 9 times. Fabio Meraldi failed in his bid to make the fastest overall ascent and descent of Everest, but his form was astounding: Base Camp to South Col in just 7 hours, alone and without supplementary oxygen! Unfortunately at 22.00 he struggled against extreme cold and was forced to abandon his attempt.

Everest, as has been repeated over and over again, is increasingly the mountain for “non” mountaineers. Nevertheless, it continues to be a mountain that provides food for thought, and stories of hardship. It remains an incredible challenge, especially if (need this be said?) climbed without oxygen. 50 years have passed since the first ascent and many things have changed during this half century. But Chomolungma seems not to have noticed, the great mountain is timeless and remains unsilenced… Perhaps it is because of this that it deserves the same respect as ever!


Photo: climbing through the Ice Fall (ph Oskar Piazza)

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