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Olympic torch relayed on Mt. Qomolangma for first time in history

Updated:2008-05-15 13:08 | Source:

MT. QOMOLANGMA BASE CAMP, Tibet, May 8 (Xinhua) -- The Olympic flame made its first trip to Mount Qomolangma as Chinese mountaineers brought it to the top of the world at 9:12 a.m. Beijing time (0112 GMT) on Thursday.

Chinese climbers display an Olympic torch, an Olympic flame lantern, a flag of International Olympic Committee, a Chinese National flag and a flag of the 29th Olympic Games at the top of the 8844.43-meter summit of Mt. Qomolangma in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region on May 8, 2008. (Photo credit: Ngawang Chagxi/Xinhua)
Chinese climbers display an Olympic torch, an Olympic flame
lantern, a flag of International Olympic Committee, a Chinese
National flag and a flag of the 29th Olympic Games at the top
of the 8844.43-meter summit of Mt. Qomolangma in southwest 
China's Tibet Autonomous Region on May 8, 2008. 
(Photo credit: Ngawang Chagxi/Xinhua)

The torch was lit at about one hundred meters away from the summit and then relayed upwards by five torchbearers.

The last bearer Tsering Wangmo, an ethnic Tibetan and one of the two female climbers on the final assault team, carried the torch to the peak.

The unprecedented relay lasted about six minutes.

"The successful ascent does not only belong to the Chinese Mountaineering Team, but also to our country," said Hu Jiayan, deputy director of the General State Administration of Sports.

Having promised to take the torch relay to Mt. Qomolangma in their bidding campaign, the Beijing organizers gathered a team of 36 climbers. Among them 19 were picked for the final assault starting from the 8,300-meter-high camp in early hours of Thursday.

TV grab from May 8, 2008 shows Female climber Cirenwangmu displays the Beijing Olympic torch "Xiangyun" at the top of the 8844.43-meter summit of Mt. Qomolangma in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region on May 8, 2008. (Photo credit: Xinhua)
TV grab from May 8, 2008 shows Female climber Cirenwangmu
displays the Beijing Olympic torch "Xiangyun" at the top
of the 8844.43-meter summit of Mt. Qomolangma in southwest
China's Tibet Autonomous Region on May 8, 2008. 
(Photo credit: Xinhua)

The final team, dressed in red parkas emblazoned with Olympic logos, should have reached the top earlier. But in order to get better sunlight and hence clear-cut live footage for the TV audience, the climbers slowed down and finally topped the 8844.43-meter (29,035-foot) peak a little more than six hours later.

The 19-member final assault team consists of both ethnic Tibetans and Han Chinese, including university students and female climbers. They were spearheaded by ethnic Tibetan Nima Tsering and deputy head Luo Shen who is Han Chinese.

About 30 climbers, including the mountaineering team and the cameramen, scaled Mt. Qomolangma in gusty winds and freezing temperature.

The first four torchbearers are Gigi (female, ethnic Tibetan), Wang Yongfeng (male, Han Chinese), team captain Nima Tsering (male, ethnic Tibetan) and Huang Chungui (male, Han Chinese).

The climbers unfurled the Chinese and Olympic flags at the summit. Some took off their oxygen masks while topping the peak.

"I feel so good as the torchbearer. I know every climber wants to be a torchbearer," Gigi, a two-time Qomolangma climber, told the China Central Television (CCTV) ahead of the ascent.

The Olympic flame was kept in a specially-designed metal canister during the ascent. As the team neared the top, the 28-year-old Norbu Zhamdul, a three-time Qomolangma climber who carried the lantern on his back, opened the lantern, ignited the torch and then passed it to the 39-year-old Gigi.

Chinese Mountaineering Team members and mountaineering training school members pose for a photo after they successfully pave the ascent route above the altitude of 8300 meters to Mount Qomolangma on May 7, 2008. (Photo credit: Suolang Luobu/Xinhua)
Chinese Mountaineering Team members and mountaineering
training school members pose for a photo after they successfully
pave the ascent route above the altitude of 8300 meters to Mount
Qomolangma on May 7, 2008. (Photo credit: Suolang Luobu/Xinhua)

The torch stayed alight and bright against strong winds, as all the torch, lighter and lantern used for the Qomolangma expedition are high-tech items capable of withstanding gale-force winds, low temperatures and the oxygen-thin air atop Mt. Qomolangma.

"We had planned to take the torch to the top in late April, but strong winds and heavy snow had delayed us again and again. This week we had the first period of good weather," said Li Zhixin, chief of the Base Camp Headquarters of the Torch Relay Qomolangma Leg.

"It is a strong team. Everyone is excellent and I feel so proud of them. We kept our promise and have made our own contribution to the promotion of the Olympic spirit," added Li, a well-known climber himself.

The Olympic flame's first Qomolangma trip was live televised by the CCTV.

Tsering Daintar, a younger brother of the last torchbearer Wangmo, scaled the summit as a CCTV cameraman.

Daintar is a student of the Tibetan Mountaineering School, whose principal Nima Tsering led Thursday's ascent.

The Beijing Olympic torch relay is the longest and most ambitious one, traveling 137,000 kilometers across five continents in 130 days. The torch returned to the Chinese mainland at the beginning of May and is touring South China's boomtown Shenzhen on Thursday.

Editor : LiuAnqi

Opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics