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Snowfall on Mount Everest Stalls Climbers

May 2, 2003

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Snow storms on Mount Everest have stranded hundreds of climbers at their base camp as a record number of people try to scale the world’s highest peak, Nepalese tourism officials said Friday.

Crowds of climbers hope to reach the summit to mark the 50th anniversary of the Himalayan peak’s conquest. On May 29, 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and a Nepalese guide, Tenzing Norgay, became the first to stand atop the mountain.

The stranded mountaineers and their Nepalese Sherpa guides and porters have been waiting for the weather to clear, sitting in their tents at the camp some 17,400 feet above sea level.

``We have reports ... that it has been snowing for the past few days, and most climbers have retreated back to the base camp due to the deteriorating weather,″ said Tourism Ministry official Gyanendra Dhakal.

Nepal meteorologists said the weather was not expected to change over the weekend.

The Nepalese government already has issued climbing permits to 22 teams with a dozen members each, plus Sherpas who help carry gear up the icy slopes.

The first batch of climbers is expected to attempt the ascent around the second week of May, when the weather is usually better.

Thousands have poured into Nepal since 1953 to try climbing 29,030-foot high Mount Everest, or simply to glimpse the Himalayan peaks from the window of an airplane. Over 1,200 have reached the summit, while nearly 200 have died on its slopes.

To mark the golden jubilee, veteran mountaineers are expected to fly to Nepal at the end of this month. They include Hillary and Junko Tabei, the first woman to set foot on the summit in 1975.

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On the Net:

Official site of the celebration: http://www.mteverestgolden50.com

News about Everest: http://www.mounteverest.net

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