Newsmakers on Everest The Chinese got a call from Yao, while Global Extremes fizzled. Here's what went down (and who went up) on the 50th anniversary of the first ascent

June 16, 2003
June 16, 2003

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June 16, 2003

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Newsmakers on Everest The Chinese got a call from Yao, while Global Extremes fizzled. Here's what went down (and who went up) on the 50th anniversary of the first ascent

Edited By Yi-Wyn Yen


This is an article from the June 16, 2003 issue

CHINESE MOUNTAINEERS Over the past 5,000 years the Chinese have
invented the compass, the printing press and gunpowder. Now
they've sent the first live television broadcast from atop the
world's highest peak. On May 21 a three-member team carrying two
cameras beamed footage from the summit back to a state-run TV
station. Afterward, Yao Ming offered his congratulations via
phone. Said the 7'5" Yao, "Now you are much higher than I am."

SPEED CLIMBERS Sherpas scale Everest the way Kenyans run
marathons: fast and seemingly without effort. While an able
climber typically takes four days to go from base camp at 17,388
feet to the 29,035-foot peak, Pemba Dorjie, 39, reached the
summit in 12:45 on May 23 to set a record. Three days later
Lhakpa Gelu, 36, made the climb in just under 11 hours.

FIRST BLACK TO SUMMIT When Sibusiso Vilane reached the peak, the
32-year-old game ranger from South Africa dropped to his knees
and wept, overcome with the significance of his feat. "There is
an African on top of the world," he said. "I cried tears of joy
for black people and for Africa."

OLDEST CLIMBER Sir Edmund Hillary, 83, wasn't the only senior
citizen hanging around Kathmandu. Seventy-year-old Yuichiro Miura
from Sapporo, Japan, set a record as the oldest to summit. In
1970 the mountaineering sensei reached the South Col at 26,240
feet, then became the first person to ski down the mountain.


GLOBAL EXTREMES The Outdoor Life Network's reality-adventure show
capped a less-than-compelling four-month series with a lackluster
finale. Plans for a first-ever televised summit were scrapped
when bad weather and injuries prevented the climbers from making
their final push to the peak. Worse, the network was scooped by
the Chinese, then lost its satellite window for a live feed when
two climbers (from what was supposed to be a team of five)
finally summited a week later on May 30.

HELICOPTER CRASH Two Nepalese men were killed and seven more
critically injured when a Russian-built MI-17 helicopter crashed
into a glacier. The chopper was flying to Everest base camp to
take speed demon Sherpa Lhakpa Gelu and his team down to
Kathmandu for the Everest Golden Jubilee celebration.

FIRST CANADIAN SANS OXYGEN TANK It has been a tough year for
Canadians. No team in the Stanley Cup finals, SARS and now Glenn
Edwards's failure to become the first climber from that country
to summit Everest without supplemental oxygen. Feeling woozy, the
Toronto firefighter turned back at 24,606 feet.

YOUNGEST CLIMBER The news that a teenage Sherpa girl had set a
record spread quickly around the world. But at 15 years and nine
months, Ming Kipa wasn't young enough. In 2001 a Sherpa boy named
Temba Chhiri summited at 15 years and 18 days. After that Nepal
banned climbers under 16 from attempting Everest. Ming sneaked in
from the Tibetan side.