| Chinese climbers atop Mount Everest on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Beijing, May 21 (Reuters): Chinese climbers broadcast the first live television pictures from the summit of Everest today, 50 years after the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain.
The broadcast from the Chinese team, which started its ascent up the north slope of the 8,850-metre peak on May 11, beat a US cable station hoping to become the first to beam images live from the summit tomorrow.
The pictures on state-run China Central Television (CCTV), which reaches hundreds of millions of people, showed a group of jubilant but exhausted climbers resting at the summit in yellow, red and purple parkas, some wearing oxygen masks and goggles.
“The wind is strong, extremely strong. We, the first team, are standing here expressing our best wishes to the Chinese people,” one said into a fur-covered microphone as he gripped one side of a flapping Chinese flag.
“Today’s achievement is a crystallisation of solidarity. We hope to climb the summit again in 2008,” he said.
The Americans had hoped to be the ones to make history.
As part of its reality adventure show Global Extreme Challenge, which made its debut earlier this year, the Outdoor Life Network planned to chronicle the eight-hour final ascent of a team of American climbers.
While previous expeditions to Everest have been captured on film for both the big screen and television, the Chinese climbers were the first to beam live TV pictures from the top.
Their ascent was chronicled by three cameras along the route and two carried by the climbers, CCTV said on its website at www.cctv.com. An 83-member CCTV crew participated in the live coverage, which was shown on five CCTV channels for two hours a day in the 10-day run-up and six hours today.
CCTV used three students from the Tibet mountain climbing school as its amateur cameramen on the summit after giving them three months of training on professional TV cameras equipped with braces against strong wind and freezing temperatures. The images were beamed by microwave transmitters. CCTV also set up a satellite TV reception station at a camp 6,500 metres up the mountain, the official said.
The climb came nearly 50 years to the day of the historic May 29, 1953, conquering of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary, a former beekeeper from New Zealand, and his Nepali Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay. The 83-year-old Hillary will join hundreds of mountain climbers in Kathmandu next week to celebrate their first ascent.
Tenzing Norgay died in 1986.