Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner gives a speech after being felicitated by Nepal's government in Kathmandu (Photo: Niranjan Shrestha, AP)
Kathmandu — Nepal's government on Thursday honoured two climbers who were the first to scale Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen 40 years ago.
Minister for Tourism Rabindra Adhikari praised the climbers at a ceremony in the capital, Kathmandu.
Italian Reinhold Messner and Austrian Peter Habeler reached the summit without the use of supplementary oxygen, while others on their team used bottled oxygen. Until then, all climbers carried oxygen cylinders to aid them at high altitudes where oxygen levels are low.
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Since Everest was first scaled in 1953, thousands of climbers have reached the summit and hundreds more make attempts every year. This year nearly 350 foreign climbers have already been issued climbing permits. Most climbers still use supplementary oxygen.
Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner, fifth right, and Austrian Peter Habeler, fifth left, attend a felicitation program along with other mountaineers in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo: Niranjan Shrestha, AP)
Messner has been a strong critic of the large number of people climbing Everest. He suggested many years back that Nepal give the mountain a rest to allow it to recover, but Nepal did not listen.
"They decided like this, I cannot change it," he said Thursday, while acknowledging that the climbing has been good for Nepal economically because many people stay for weeks and spend large amounts of money.
Messner said climbing Everest is no longer an adventure and instead has become a tourism activity.
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"Today mountaineering is tourism. Mountaineering is where people are going without infrastructure, but on Everest there is huge infrastructure," he said. "The Sherpas prepare everything and clients pay to trek to the summit."
Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner gives a speech after being felicitated by Nepal's government in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo: Niranjan Shrestha, AP)
The debate about Everest climbing was revived in 2014 when 16 Sherpa guides were killed by an avalanche just above the base camp while preparing the route for clients. A year later, an avalanche triggered by a massive earthquake killed another 19 people at the base camp.
Each climber pays the government $11,000 (R131779,45 at R11,89/$) for a permit. Various expedition outfitters offer climbing gear, cooks and guides, which can cost many thousands of dollars.
No mountaineering experience is required to get an Everest permit.
SEE: Get inspired by this Australian paraplegic who aims to be first to reach Everest
Plan your trip: Kathmandu, Nepal
- Do SA residents need a visa: Visa on arrival.
- Currency & exhange rate: Nepalese Rupee. 1 Nepalese Rupee equals 0,11 Rands on 20 April 2018
- Main Airport: Tribhuvan International Airport
- Airlines that travel there: Turkish Airlines, Emirates/FlyDubai, Qatar Airways, Kathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways (search for flights here)