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Scaling of Mt. Everest Celebrates 50th Anniversary - 2003-05-20


50 years ago, history was made when Sir Edmund Hillary - along with his Sherpa guide - became the first to scale Mount Everest. In honor of the feat, India kicked off two days of celebrations on Tuesday. VOA TV’s Wayne Bowman has the story.

In 1953 – Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay stood on top of the world – at the peak of Mount Everest. 50 years ago, it was an unimaginable feat earning the two climbers a place in history. Since then, hundreds have followed in their footsteps. This year alone 30 teams have registered to make the ascent, with two already reaching the summit.

But the popularity of scaling the world’s tallest peak has come at a price. Many have lost their lives. And the cost to the environment has been staggering. Hundreds of tons of garbage have been left on the hillside by the yearly expeditions.

Speaking in New Delhi, the now 83 year old Sir Edmund warned of the environmental damage caused by careless climbers who have littered the once pristine mountain paths with trash.

SIR EDMUND HILLARY
"With an enormous increase in expeditions, Everest is becoming littered with empty oxygen bottles and other rubbish. Commercial climbing has developed with many inexperienced enthusiasts being conducted by expert guides with over dozens of aluminum ladders and thousands of meters of fixed rope. It was hardly mountaineering in the full sense of the word. More, a conducted tour.”

A clean up of Everest is due later this year when nine American climbers and nine Nepali sherpas plan to haul more than a ton of paper, oxygen tanks and other rubbish down from a camp at 63-hundred meters, a camp used by climbers preparing for the final ascent to the summit.

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