Nepal to honour Everest climber
Borneo Post
- Tuesday, 20 May 2003
 

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HISTORICAL MOMENT ... this picture dated July 3, 1953 of Mount Everest conquerors Hillary (right) and Norgay at London's Heathrow Airport upon their arrival from the expedition. - AFP photo
   

KATHMANDU: The Nepalese government is to confer honorary citizenship on Sir Edmund Hillary to mark the golden jubilee of the first ascent of world's tallest peak, Mount Everest, officials said Sunday.

The Council of Ministers headed by Prime Minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand was expected to make a formal decision on Monday after a recommendation from the home ministry, tourism officials said. Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa were the first to reach the summit of the 8,848-metre (29,028­foot) mountain on May 29, 1953.

Hillary will be in Nepal for the jubilee celebrations.

"Edmund Hillary and his wife will be honoured as distinguished guests, while Nepal is celebrating the Mount Everest Golden Jubilee, at a civic reception on, May 27 to be organised by the Kathmandu Metropolitan Corporation," an official said.

Hillary, Junko Tabei, the first woman to scale Everest in 1975, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler, who were the first to climb without the help of supplementary oxygen in 1978, and Apa Sherpa, who has reached the peak a record 12 times, will all attend the reception, the officials said.

Beforehand they will be carried through the streets of Kathmandu in horse-driven carriages.

Organisers said up to 500 Everest conquerors will join in the official celebrations.

However, none of the 35 Chinese who have climbed the mountain will be attending because of the threat of SARS, while only seven of the 40 or so Japanese conquerors will be there, organisers said.

Officials said the celebrations would kick off on May 24 with a festival of prayers and traditional dancing in front of the Royal Palace organised by the Hotel Association of Nepal and other travel groups.

Similar festivals will be held on May 25 in Lalitpur, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, and on May 26 and 27 in other areas of the city.

An "open dinner" for the conqerors has been organised on May 27 at the renowned Rum Doodle restaurant where many mountaineers eat, owner Tek Chand Pokharel told AFP.

On May 28 saplings will be planted at the International Mountaineers Memorial Park at Kakani, 36 kilometres (22 miles) northwest of Kathmandu. On the day of the anniversary, King Gyanendra will meet the summitters at a special gathering at the Birendra International Conference Hall, followed by a gala dinner.

The final festivities will be on May 31 with a music festival in Kathmandu. - AFP