KATHMANDU, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Eight renowned mountaineers who have successfully climbed various mountains of the world including Mount Qomolangma in 1978 are in Nepal to mark the 40th anniversary of their summit.
Amid a special ceremony organized here on Thursday, the heroes of mountain fraternity from various countries were honored by Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari.
These mountaineers are members of a 12-member-team who had a historic summit of 8,848 meter high Qomolangma four decades back, among which two of the members had reached the top of the world without oxygen. Among 12, eight surviving members are in Nepal together for the first time.
Leader of the expedition in 1978 Wolfgang Nairz, world most famous mountaineer Reinhold Messner, Oswald Öelz, Peter Habeler, Raimund Margreiter, Robert Schauer, Hanns Schell and Helmut Hagner are the surviving members of the expedition. Among them, Messner and Habeler had scaled the mountain, known as Sagarmatha in Nepal, without supplemental oxygen.
Reinhold Messner, who has climbed all the 8,000-meter peaks without the use of oxygen, was of view that the Qomolangma expedition is more like tourism rather than mountaineering in the recent years.
"Before decades, climbing mountain was all about adventure as it was without fixed schedules and no use of high-end gears, equipments and technology. Now, it's more like a tourism activity rather than mountaineering, it has been quiet easy," Messner, who advocates traditional alpinism, shared with media.
Stating that Qomolangma is highly associated with country's tourism and economy, the Italian climber said that having around 1,000 people in the base camp in this spring season signifies the reality.
April-May is the best mountaineering season in Nepal, when the climbers and trekkers from around the world along with strong Sherpa guides gather in the Khumbu region, sometimes even causing a traffic jam in Qomolangma.
This year, at least 34 foreign teams comprising 326 climbers have already taken the permit from Department of Tourism under Nepal government to scale Mount Qomolangma.
For foreigners, Nepal's Tourism Department takes 11, 000 U.S. dollars royalty for the Qomolangma expedition.
About the suspicions of collapse of Hillary step, known as the most dangerous section, located near the summit of Qomolangma, the climbers made it clear that it is just a rumor.
"In 2017, I went myself and saw that the Hillary Step is still intact. It has just been covered with the hard snow," Messner clarified.
The veteran mountaineers said they are glad to recall their historical ascent by visiting the Khumbu region once again and expressed will in promoting tourism of the Himalayan country.
"I came in Nepal in 1970 first and probably by next year, it will be my 30th visit. Beside mountains and culture, I am always fascinated by the warmth of Nepali people," 74-year-old Nairz said while addressing the felicitation ceremony.
Austrian national Nairz, who was also the team leader for expeditions of Mount Manaslu, Makalu, Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, Dhaulagiri among others, has been running various support programs in Nepal in the field of health and education.
Addressing the felicitation event, Tourism Minister urged the world famous mountaineers to promote Nepal and the mountains in their respective countries and across the world.
"Contribution of tourism is high in Nepal's GDP while it has sustained the livelihoods of many. It is our joint responsibility to promote mountains," Adhikari said.