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Yahoo! News   Fri, May 30, 2003
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Science - AFP
159 climbers scale Everest this season
1 hour, 52 minutes ago
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KATHMANDU (AFP) - A total of 159 climbers from 22 expeditions have successfully summited Mount Everest (news - web sites) in this Golden Jubilee season, Nepal's tourism ministry said.

AFP/File Photo

AFP Photo
Slideshow Slideshow: 50th Anniversary of Mount Everest Conquest


The figure included seven climbers from the United States, Canada and Britain accompanied by seven Sherpa mountain guides, who reached the peak on Friday -- the last group to do so this season, it said Friday.

"The spring season is ending at Saturday midnight," an official announcement said.

An official of the Ministry of Tourism said the 2003 spring season had been the busiest ever because expeditions wanted to mark the 50th anniversary of the first ascent on by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953.

"We are very happy that the Golden Jubilee season was completed without any major accident or loss of life," the official said.

But one day before the anniversary, celebrations were marred when a helicopter carrying porters to Everest Base Camp crashed 100 meters (yards) from its landing point, killing two Nepalese onboard and injuring seven others, including a German woman who was trekking below.

Several records were set during the season, including the fastest time to the top and by reaching the peak for the 13th time.

Appa Sherpa, 42, reached the top of the world's highest mountain on Sunday breaking his own record of 12 ascents.

Sherpa Lhakpa Gela, 36, clipped almost two hours off the Everest speed climbing record that was set just three days previously, reaching the summit from Base Camp in a time of 10 hours 56 minutes and 46 seconds.

Friday's summitters were named as Americans Vernon Edward Tejas, 50, Luis G. Benitaz, 31, James Patrick Clarke, 40, Paul Obert, 53, Jean Michel Valette, 43, Canadian Bruno Rodi, 49, and Matthew Holt, 41, from London.

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