Edmund Hillary's ashes to be taken atop Mount Everest



Kathmandu: More than 50 years after Kiwi beekeeper Sir Edmund Hillary became the first man to stand atop world's tallest peak 8,848-metre high Mount Everest, the ashes of the world's most famous mountaineer are to be carried there to make it his last resting place.

The ashes would be carried to Everest by Nepalese Apa Sherpa when he attempts his record-breaking 20th ascent of the peak later this month.

And joining this epic-making expedition would be an Indian, Arjun Bajpayee, who at 16 is aspiring to be the youngest man from his country to climb the world's highest summit.

Most of Hillary's ashes were scattered in the sea off Auckland in his native New Zealand following his death in 2008, aged 88.

But Apa says that some of his ashes had been kept in a Buddhist Monastery in Himalayan village of Kunde in eastern Nepal and these would now be scattered in the eternal snows of the Everest.

Hillary and the Nepalese sherpa Norgay Tenzing made history when they made the maiden ascent of Everest on May 29, 1953. The New Zealander later adopted Nepal as his second home running a foundation that build schools and hospitals at the base of Everest in an area called Solokhumbu.

Bajpayee would be joined by two other Indian women climbers Bhagya Shree Sawant, 18 and Mamta Shoda, 31 in the Everest Odyssey which will be led by veteran Nepalese climber Dawa Steven Sherpa.

The international team will also comprise nine other foreign nationals and 17 Nepalese climbers who would attempt the peak by April 20.

"I will pray for Hillary once I reach the summit," Apa told reporters in Kathmandu.

"The Eco Everest 2010 expedition will place his ashes on Mt Everest and the climbers will pray that his soul rests in peace," Nepal Tourism Minister Sharad Singh Bhandari said.

The expedition will also mark the beginning Nepal Tourism Year in 2011 with the aim to attracting one million tourists, Bhandari said.

Hillary has built schools, hospitals and roads in remote mountainous region of Nepal.

"We are discharging his debt," said Ang Rita.

The Expedition will bring 7,000 kilogrammes of garbage from Everest to Kathmandu, said team leader Dawa Sherpa.

"We are planning to bring down seven tonnes of garbage,' said Dawa. He led a similar expedition last year which brought down 6,000 tonnes of garbage from the massif and the team would climb Everest in an eco-friendly manner.

PTI