Nepal plans to name Himalayan peaks after Hillary, Tenzing

Fri Sep 6, 2013 12:52am EDT
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By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal plans to name two Himalayan peaks after pioneering Mount Everest climbers Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a senior hiking official said, in a move designed to boost tourism in the beautiful but desperately poor country.

New Zealander Hillary and his Nepali guide Tenzing made it to the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) summit of the world's highest mountain on May 29, 1953 as part of a British expedition, which put Nepal on the map as a destination for adventure tourism.

A government panel has recommended that two unnamed mountains be called Hillary Peak and Tenzing Peak, said Ang Tshering Sherpa, a former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

"This is to honor their contribution to mountaineering in Nepal," Sherpa, who headed the panel, told Reuters.

The two peaks - Hillary's at 7,681 m (25,200 ft) and Tenzing's at 7,916 m (25,971 ft) - have never been climbed and are expected to be opened to foreigners in the spring season that starts in March, he said.

Officials hope the peaks will attract more climbers and help boost tourism in Nepal, home to eight of the world's 14 highest mountains. Tourism now accounts for about 4 percent of the country's economy and employs thousands of people.

Hillary died in 2008 at age 88 and Tenzing died in 1986 at age 72. Climbers in their time lacked the specialized equipment taken for granted today and the heavy oxygen tanks the two men carried made mountaineering more challenging than it is now.

About 4,000 climbers have made it to the summit of Everest since 1953, among them an 80-year-old Japanese man, an American teenager and a blind person. Two Nepali sherpas have reached the top a record 21 times each.   Continued...

Sir Edmund Hillary (L) and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa display their climbing gear at the British Embassy in Kathmandu following their conquest of Mount Everest in 1953 in this undated handout photograph. REUTERS/Picture Norgay Archive/Handout