February 22, 2011

15 Nepal Civil Servants Set To Climb World’s Highest Peak

Organizers said Tuesday that 15 Nepalese civil servants will soon abandon their desks for the slopes of Everest to improve government understanding of the challenges facing the Himalayas.

The civil servants from different ministries, including tourism, education and foreign affairs, are between the ages 27 and 54 and they aim to reach the top of the world's highest peak during the main climbing season in May.

The $420,000 cost of the expedition is being covered by the state, and Laxman Bhattarai said he hoped it would help the team understand the impact of climate change and mass tourism.

"This will be the first time government employees will leave their desks and head for such a challenging mission," Bhattarai, the spokesman for Nepal's tourism ministry, told journalists.

"The government officials who work with mountaineers don't have any practical experience of the mountains, and that has hampered the process of formulating policies related to this sector."

About 3,000 people have climbed the 29,028-foot Himalayan peak since it was first conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

The 15 members of the government team started training for the climb last summer and will leave Kathmandu in early April to begin their 75-day expedition.

The team will climb the 20,209-foot Island Peak to help them acclimatize to the altitude before ascending to Everest base camp.

Padam Ghale, an experienced mountain guide who has trained the team members, said he was confident all 15 would make it to the top.

"It was a new experience for me to train these people. They are mentally and physically fit to climb," Ghale told journalists, adding that more training sessions have been planned for the coming months.