The flight to Lukla in the Everest Region is one of the most thrilling experiences. Apart from the stunning vista of +8000m peaks and snowy Himalayan ranges, the heart racing touchdown and take-off experience at the airport runway (which is perched on a cliff) is guaranteed to give one goosebumps. No wonder the Tenzing Hillary airport has made it as one of the “World’s Thrilling Airports.” According to a report on CNNGO, Airfarewatchdog.com has compiled a list of the world’s most thrilling airports and Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla is one of them.
The runway at Tenzing-Hillary Airport (pic: EH archive)
The Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla was built in 1964 at the initiative of the Himalayan Trust to ease the transportation of cargo and building materails for the trust's educational projects in Everest Region. Prior to the establishment of the airport, locals as well as trekkers and mountaineers had to make an ardous trek lasting several days from Jiri to reach the Sherpa villages in Everest region. With the building of the airport, life has become much easier for the Khumbu locals as well as tourist visiting the Everest Region. In 2008 Nepal Government named the airport Tenzing-Hillary Airport in honor of Everest heroes and the first climbers to conquer Mount Everest, Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary.
Read about it on CNNGO “World's most 'thrilling' airports, where thrilling = terrifying”
Take a flight to Lukla & Trek to Everest Base Camp
Hirotaka Takeuchi, a Japanese climber, conquered his last of the 14 8000ers, the 8,167m-high Mount Dhaulagiri in Nepal on May 26th. With this achievement he became the first Japanese climber to conquer all the fourteen 8000 metre peaks in the world. According to Nepal Mountaineering Assocaition he is the 30th climber to complete this feat. Takeuchi's effort to climb the world's 14 8000ers began in 1995.
The world's mighty fourteen 8000ers are Mount Everest (8848m),K2 (8611m), Kanchenjunga (8586m),Lhotse(8516m), Makalu(8485m), Cho Oyu(8188m), Dhaulagiri I(8167m), Manaslu(8163m), Nanga parbat(8125Mm), Annapurna I (8091m),GasherbrumI (8080m), Broad Peak (8051m), Gasherbrum II (8034m), Shisapangma (8027m). All these peaks lie in Asia.
A massive chunk of snow and rock – Spire of Dhaulagiri (Pic; Samir Shrestha)
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Today, ie, 29th May, 2012 marks the Fifth International Sagarmatha (Everest) Day. The Nepalese Himalayan mountaineering fraternity celebrates this day to mark the first ascent of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa on 29th May, 1953. To celebrate the day Namche Festival is being held in Namche Bazaar in Everest Region and the world’s highest marathon Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon which began from Everest Base Camp is underway. In the capital, various mountaineering and tourism organizations are holding special programs to celebrate the special day.
Mount Everest (Pic: Explore Himalaya)
73 year old Japanese mountaineer Tamae Watanabe successfully reached the summit of Mt. Everest on 19th May (Saturday), 2012 thus becoming the oldest climber/ woman climber to climb the world's tallest peak. She made her summit bid from an altitude of 8,300 meters on Friday night and finally reached the summit in the early hours of the next day. Watanabe had set out for the expedition last month.
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Many deaths occur in the high Himalayan mountains due to lack of oxygen. Though mountaineers or their sherpas carry supplementary O2 while climbing, heading up to the summit carrying a heavy load of supplementary O2 canisters is nothing less but cumbersome. Many climbers choose to throw the used canisters away, adding to the litter on the mountain.
According to a report on Explorersweb, Summit Air a Vancouver based company has developed a system where oxygen will be pumped up Mt. Everest from a camp in the Western Cwm above the icefall, enabling mountaineers who reach the South Col to breathe oxygen from a source other than bottled O2. The oxygen pipes used by the company for the system has been developed by NASA and used by astronauts during their space-walks. They have used an advanced form of technology in developing a high pressure pipe for the purpose which remains supple even at -50 C but when punctured by a crampon will self-seal without leaking.
After the pumping station has been set up at the first camp above the icefall, the company will employ sherpas to carry thousands of feet of pipeline up the mountain to the South Col. Once the system comes into operation, climbers will have 24 hour access to breathable oxygen. Those who want to use the system will have to pay for the O2 and a special attachment hose and mask.
It is near impossible to climb Mt. Everest- the highest peak in the world without supplementary oxygen.
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Leanna Shuttleworth, an eighteen year old British climber is on a quest to make a new record this climbing season by climbing Mount Everest and Lhotse within 24 hours. She has already climbed six of the seven highest summits and her Everest summit will complete her Seven Summits Challenge making her the youngest British woman to carry out the feat. Leanna will be making her twin summit bid in April 2012.
Here are some interesting facts and figures compiled by Mr. Ang Tshering Sherpa of Asian Trekking on mountaineering expeditions to the major peaks in Nepal & Tibet. He had compiled this list with information gathered from: Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (Government of Nepal),China Tibet Mountaineering Association, Nepal Mountaineering Association and the archives of Miss Elizabeth Hawley.
Facts & Figures
Total number of Mount Everest ascents (from 1953 to Spring 2011) stands at 5584, with 3448 climbers reaching the summit of Everest. In Spring 2011 there were 375 ascents to Mount Everest from Nepal side. Out of 234 foreign climbers, 156 summited Mt.Everest. After Nepalese, Americans, British and Indians had the highest number of summiteers on Everest with 39, 27 and 19 summitteers respectively.
The Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Nepal issued a total of 92 permits to Mountaineering teams to various expedition peaks in this spring season of 2011. Of these, 23 were permits for foreign Mt. Everest expedition teams. There were 65 foreign Expedition teams (consisting of 465 foreign climbers) to various other mountains. The most number of climber (besides Nepalis) on the Expedition Peaks were from USA with 129 climbers, India with 48 climbers and UK with 36 climbers.
Nepal Mountaineering Association issued permits to447 climbing teams with total 2015 foreign climbers in Spring 2011 for climbing various NMA peaks. The highest number of climbers were from the UK with 258 climbers, second were Germans with 240 climber and USA with 190 climbers.
Total economic contribution from Mt. Everest Expedition teams in Spring 2011 was USD 90,15,978, while from other Mountaineering Expedition teams & NMA Peak climbing teams the contribution was USD 67,36,631 & USD71,98,35,625 respectively.
Expeditions on Tibetan Peaks (Spring , 2011)
This climbing season, on the Tibet side of Mt. Everest, there were 17 teams with 139 foreign climbers. 46 foreign climbers,56 Sherpas and 29 Chinese/ Tibetan climbers reached the top of Mt. Everest from North Side this Spring Season. Mt. Cho-Oyu had 10 groups with a total of 112 climbers (including Sherpas). 11 foreign climbers and 12 Sherpas were successful in reaching the summit of Mt. Cho-Oyu. While 8 teams with a total of 60 climbers (including sherpas) ascended Mt. Shishapangma. Only 16 foreign climbers and 7 sherpas could reach the summit of Mt. Shishapangma (from both the South Face and the Normal Route (North Side)).
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Apa Sherpa, who recently scaled Mount Everest (8848m) for the record 21st time, has declared that this year’s ascent to the world’s tallest mountain is going to be his last one. Apa who is 51 years old led the Eco Everest Expedition 2011 this season with the mission to spread awareness on climate change and its adverse impact on the Himalayan Mountains. His team collected and disposed 1,100 kg of trash littered on the highest climbing trails of the world.
Talking to media persons in the capital Apa Sherpa disclosed his decision to bid goodbye to future Everest ascents. He said that he would devote his time in writing a memoir about his climbing experiences and mountaineering and raise awareness on protecting the mountain environment.