Special report: 2008 Olympic Games
By Wang Jimin and Painba Tsering
MT. QOMOLANGMA BASE CAMP, Tibet, May 8 (Xinhua) --
The Olympic flame made its first trip to Mount Qomolangma as Chinese
mountaineers brought it to the top of the world at 9:12 a.m. Beijing time (0112
GMT) on Thursday.
The torch was lit at about one hundred meters away
from the summit and then relayed upwards by five torchbearers.
Graphics shows the route of the 2008 Beijing Olympic torch relay onto Mt. Qomolangma in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region on May 8, 2008.(Xinhua Photo)
The last bearer Tsering Wangmo, an ethnic Tibetan and
one of the two female climbers on the final assault team, carried the torch to
The unprecedented relay lasted about six minutes.
"The successful ascent does not only belong to the
Chinese Mountaineering Team, but also to our country," said Hu Jiayan, deputy
director of the General State Administration of Sports.
Having promised to take the torch relay to Mt.
Qomolangma in their bidding campaign, the Beijing organizers gathered a team of
36 climbers. Among them 19 were picked for the final assault starting from the
8,300-meter-high camp in early hours of Thursday.
The final team, dressed in red parkas emblazoned with
Olympic logos, should have reached the top earlier. But in order to get better
sunlight and hence clear-cut live footage for the TV audience, the climbers
slowed down and finally topped the 8844.43-meter (29,035-foot) peak a little
more than six hours later.
The 19-member final assault team consists of both
ethnic Tibetans and Han Chinese, including university students and female
climbers. They were spearheaded by ethnic Tibetan Nima Tsering and deputy head
Luo Shen who is Han Chinese.
About 30 climbers, including the mountaineering team
and the cameramen, scaled Mt. Qomolangma in gusty winds and freezing
The first four torchbearers are Gigi (female, ethnic
Tibetan), Wang Yongfeng (male, Han Chinese), team captain Nima Tsering (male,
ethnic Tibetan) and Huang Chungui (male, Han Chinese).
The climbers unfurled the Chinese and Olympic flags
at the summit. Some took off their oxygen masks while topping the peak.
"I feel so good as the torchbearer. I know every
climber wants to be a torchbearer," Gigi, a two-time Qomolangma climber, told
the China Central Television (CCTV) ahead of the ascent.
The Olympic flame was kept in a specially-designed
metal canister during the ascent. As the team neared the top, the 28-year-old
Norbu Zhamdul, a three-time Qomolangma climber who carried the lantern on his
back, opened the lantern, ignited the torch and then passed it to the
The torch stayed alight and bright against strong
winds, as all the torch, lighter and lantern used for the Qomolangma expedition
are high-tech items capable of withstanding gale-force winds, low temperatures
and the oxygen-thin air atop Mt. Qomolangma.
"We had planned to take the torch to the top in late
April, but strong winds and heavy snow had delayed us again and again. This week
we had the first period of good weather," said Li Zhixin, chief of the Base Camp
Headquarters of the Torch Relay Qomolangma Leg.
"It is a strong team. Everyone is excellent and I
feel so proud of them. We kept our promise and have made our own contribution to
the promotion of the Olympic spirit," added Li, a well-known climber himself.
The Olympic flame's first Qomolangma trip was live
televised by the CCTV.
Tsering Daintar, a younger brother of the last
torchbearer Wangmo, scaled the summit as a CCTV cameraman.
Daintar is a student of the Tibetan Mountaineering
School, whose principal Nima Tsering led Thursday's ascent.
The Beijing Olympic torch relay is the longest and
most ambitious one, traveling 137,000 kilometers across five continents in 130
days. The torch returned to the Chinese mainland at the beginning of May and is
touring South China's boomtown Shenzhen on Thursday.