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article imageMountaineering Madness Grips Climbers In The Himalayas

By Shyam Bahadur     Apr 18, 2002 in Technology
KATHMANDU(dpa) - The spring climbing season in Nepal's Himalayan mountains is in full swing, and mountain madness has struck trekkers from all over the world to set new records and achieve new heights.

Nepal's spring climbing season - from March to the end of May - attracts a large gathering of seasoned and novice climbers from all over the world to the Himalayan peaks ranging in size from 6,000 metres to the world's highest, Mount Everest, at 8,848 metres.

There are more than 1,300 peaks over 6,000-metres high in Nepal.

There were fears this season could be affected by law-and-order problems triggered by the ongoing Maoist insurgency. However, intrepid climbers have not been deterred.

Ganesh Raj Karki, head of the mountaineering unit at the Nepalese Tourism Ministry, predicted by the end of the season the number of expeditions "will be more or less the same as last year".

There were 55 teams last year attempting different peaks throughout the Himalayas.

The focus this year, as in previous years, is Mount Everest. There are 10 teams climbing from the Nepalese side, and reports say 15 teams are attempting from the Tibetan side to the north.

A Swiss team are trying to climb the world's highest peak in commemoration of their attempt in 1952, when Raymond Lambert and Tenzing Norgay reached a height of 8,600 metres and, many say, set the stage for the successful climb to the summit the next year.

Two descendants of the first two men to top Everest are now at the its base camp hoping to accomplish what their father and grandfather did in May 1953. One is Peter Hillary, son of Sir Edmund Hillary, and other is Tenzing Tashi Sherpa, grandson of Tenzing Norgay.

A possible Everest record this year could be the 12th climb attempt to reach the summit by the ace Nepalese climber Appa Sherpa. He currently is with the Swiss expedition.

A man once given just two weeks to live is also making an attempt on Mount Everest this year. Sean Swarner, 27, is on what is being called the "cancer survivor" expedition to Everest.

Mount Everest has been conquered by 1,318 climbers so far, among those 456 were from Nepal, 154 from the United States and 84 from Japan.

An estimated 167 people have lost their lives in Everest attempts, and some of their bodies remain frozen on the mountain.

An all Asian 29-member team led by Japanese climber Ken Noguchi, 28, set out for the mountain last week to recover those that didn't make it, along with trash discarded over the years.

Noguhi's team - comprised of climbers from Japan, Nepal and South Korea - will try to bring down 2 to 3 tonnes of garbage left behind up to an altitude of 8,000 metres, where the South Col, popularly known as the highest garbage dump in the world, is located.

Noguchi holds the record for being the youngest person to climb the highest mountains in all seven continents.

"We will try to bring down these bodies and bury them at lower altitudes," he said.

It is estimated that there are hundreds of tonnes of garbage on the southern Nepalese and northern Tibetan slopes of Mount Everest.

The team plans to take back some of the garbage to Japan and Korea, and display it as a reminder to other climbers to keep the world's highest mountain clean.

"Because of the world situation and the situation in Nepal, things may not be as rosy as in the past," tourism official Karki says. "But in the mountains, nothing has changed."
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