By Binaj Gurubacharya
Nepal's government honored record-holding climbers Monday during celebrations of the first ascent of Mount Everest 70 years ago.
The celebrations come amid a growing concern about temperatures rising, glaciers and snow melting, and weather being harsh and unpredictable on the world’s tallest mountain.
Hundreds of people from the mountaineering community, Sherpa guides and officials attended a rally in Kathmandu to mark the anniversary. Participants waved celebratory banners and walked in the center of Kathmandu to tunes played by military bands.
Among those honored were Sherpa guides Kami Rita, who climbed Everest twice this season for a record 28 times overall, and Sanu Sherpa, who has climbed all of the world's 14 highest peaks twice.
Hari Budha Magar, who became the first double above-the-knee amputee to climb Everest, was also honored by the country's Tourism Minister Sushila Sirpali Thakuri.
“May 29 is a day when we all always remember and be proud of when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing (Norgay) Sherpa reached the top of Everest and it is the day the Sherpas became known," Sanu Sherpa said.
Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay reached the summit on May 29, 1953. Nepal began celebrating the anniversary as Everest Day after Hillary's death in 2008.
Since their ascent, thousands of people have scaled the 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) peak and hundreds have also lost their lives on the unpredictable slopes.
During the 2023 climbing season, hundreds of climbers and their guides scaled the peak, and 17 either died or went missing.
The popular Himalayan climbing season begins in March and ends in May after which monsoon winds and melting temperatures make the mountains too hazardous for climbing.
Deteriorating conditions on Everest are raising concerns for mountaineers and others whose livelihoods depend on the flow of visitors coming to climb the mountain each year. Warmer conditions mean climbers who made their way across snow and ice are now crossing bare rock.
Recent research found that Mount Everest’s glaciers have lost 2,000 years of ice in just the past 30 years.