Record holder Veteran Sherpa guide Kami Rita poses for a photo in front of the statues of New Zealander Edmund Hillary, left, and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay on the 70 anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, May 29, 2023. The 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) mountain peak was first scaled by Hillary and Norgay on May 29, 1953 | Photo: AP/PTI
Kathmandu: Nepal honoured record-holding Sherpa guides and climbers on Monday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.
On May 29, 1953, Hillary, a beekeeper from New Zealand and his Sherpa guide Norgay scripted history by becoming the first human beings to scale the treacherous terrains of the world's highest mountain peak.
Thousands of Sherpa guides and government officials participated in a rally here to mark the 70th anniversary.
They waved banners that read "Save the Himalayas."
Among those honoured include Sherpa guides Kami Rita, who climbed Everest for a record 28 times, and Sanu Sherpa, who climbed all the world's 14 highest peaks twice.
Hari Budha Magar, who became the first double above-the-knee amputee to climb Everest, was also honoured by Nepal's Tourism Minister Sushila Sirpali Thakuri.
On the occasion, a silver badge encrypted with the logo of Everest was distributed to dozens of Nepalese and foreign Everest summiteers.
Those receiving the badge include an Indian citizen, who climbed the 8,848.86 metres-high Everest in 2021.
Russian, North American and French climbers were also bestowed with this honour.
"For the first time, we are honouring local and foreign climbers who have climbed Everest with medals," Mohan Lamsal, the general secretary of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said.
A special programme was also organised to honour the families of Norgay and Hillary, officials said.
Since their herculean efforts seven decades ago, 7,621 mountaineers have scaled Everest.
Over 600 have scaled Everest during this spring season, according to Nepal's Department of Tourism.
The climbing season begins in March and ends by the end of May, following which monsoon winds and melting temperatures make it hazardous for climbing.
Nepal has so far opened 414 mountains for climbing. Eight of the 14 mountains higher than 8,000 metres in the world are in Nepal.
In commemoration of the day when Hillary and Norgay climbed Mt Everest, the Nepal government celebrates May 29 every year as Mt Everest Day.
Hillary died on January 11, 2008. Norgay died on May 9, 1986.
Coincidentally, Republic Day and Mt Everest Day fall on the same day in Nepal.