Precise date for ascent of Olympic flame to Mt. Qomolangma still pending 2008-04-30 20:41:25   Print

Special report: 2008 Olympic Games

Staff members lay a flag of the Olympic logo at the base camp of Mt. Qomolangma at the altitude of 5,200 meters in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region April 30, 2008. A team for weather report, communicaitons, power supply, fire control and media is working at the base to ensure the success of the Beijing Olympic torch relay on Mt. Qomolangma. (Xinhua Photo)
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    By Sportswriter Wangjimin

    QOMOLANGMA BASE CAMP, Tibet, April 30 (Xinhua) -- A meteorological expert said here Wednesday that precise date for the ascent of the Olympic flame to the Mt. Qomolangma is still up in the air as the weather over the world's highest peak is unstable recently.

    Yang Xingguo, who is in charge of the meteorological forecast for the ascent of the Olympic flame, told Xinhua at the Qomolangma Base Camp on Wednesday that a storm is forming in the Bangladesh Gulf south of the Mt. Qomolangma and it heads north and will add more uncertainty to the weather atop the peak.

    "The weather around the Mt. Qomolangma is complicated as it is located in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, dubbed the Third Pole in the world. And around the Mt. Qomolangma, there are three more peaks with an altitude of 8,000 meters, let alone those higher than 7,000 meters," Yang said.

    "There are also distinctive diversity of weather mode between the south and north slopes of the Mt. Qomolangma, so it is really hard to predict precisely. I think at least it is impossible to scale the mount in the next three days."

    The torch relay, ahead of the Games to open in Beijing on Aug. 8, will include a flame ascent to the Mt. Qomolangma on the border of Nepal and China's Tibet. It is separate from the one on the global run, which has reached Hong Kong, China.

    The sacred flame is expected to be on the Mt. Qomolangma in May,but the precise date will depend on the weather. May will be the safest month for climbing the Mt. Qomolangma considering weather conditions.

    "The gale is the most dangerous factor to mountaineering," said Yang, who works for the Chinese Central Meteorological Observatory. "And compared with last year, the winds are stronger this year, so we will keep close watch upon the weather to ensure timely and accurate forecast."

    The Chinese meteorological authorities have installed state-of-the-art observatories on the Mt. Qomolangma early this year in order to collect weather information before and during the Olympic flame ascent to the summit, which stands 8,844.43 meters according to measurements made by scientists in 2005.

    The weather service system will collect weather data through satellites as well as the six automatic meteorological stations that have been in place since last May, which are located at six points between the Base Camp at 5,200 meters to an elevation of 6,200 meters above sea level.

    "We have to provide three days' forecast for climbing, and based on these forecast, we will recommend the best time for the Chinese mountaineers and will stay in close contact with them during the expedition," Yang said.

    Shao Shiwei, deputy director of the P.R. department of the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG) on Wednesday also confirmed that the precise date for the ascent was not fixed because of the bad weather recently.

    The Olympic flame was lighted in ancient Olympia, Greece on March 24. After running through 19 countries on its international tour, the torch has arrived in China's Hong Kong. The flame's tour in China includes the Mt. Qomolangma in May and Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, in June.

    The Olympic flame's first trip to the world's highest peak will also be televised. A lantern carrying Olympic flame has already been in the Base Camp.

Editor: Sun Yunlong
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