Stranded Everest heroes rescued in NepalBy Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Monday, January 24, 2011
KATHMANDU - A team of 14, including 10 Everest summiters, who became stranded due to bad weather after carrying Nepal’s tourism torch to a lesser peak, has begun to be rescued by helicopter, officials said.
Ten Everest heroes who had created a record, had become stranded in Lukla, a mountainous region in northern Nepal considered the gateway to the Himalayan peaks, since Jan 17.
They included Temba Tsheri Sherpa, who at 16 had been the youngest climber to summit Mt Everest in 2001, and Pemba Dorje Sherpa, who holds the record for the fastest ascent at 8hour 10 minutes.
They were part of the 14-member team, including three tourism officials and Zimba Zangbu Sherpa, president of Nepal Mountaineering Association, which had headed towards Mt Ama Dablam earlier this month.
With Nepal kicking off its Tourism Year 2011 formally Jan 14, the 10 Everest heroes began a torchlight ascent to take the flame to the peak of the 6,812m Ama Dablam on the same day.
Though all but Pemba summited the peak successfully, on their return to Lukla, the climbers as well as officials became stranded due to bad weather from Jan 17.
Along with them, nearly 150 tourists as well as their Nepali support staff had also become stranded in Lukla, Zimba Zangbu Sherpa told IANS.
With two climbers falling ill, helicopter rescue operations were started from Saturday to fly them back to Kathmandu.
The two climbers suffering from mountain sickness were air-lifted Saturday while six more members of the team were brought back to Kathmandu Sunday.
Sherpa was part of the group of four more who were rescued Monday as the weather improved markedly.
He said the remaining three members would also be brought back to Kathmandu by the afternoon.
However, there was no immediate news about the stranded tourists.
Nepal is aiming to draw 1 million tourists this year. However, the turbulent republic has to grapple with funds crunch, the lack of a government for over six months, and lack of adequate infrastructure, especially in the mountainous north.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)