Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Massive Earthquake Could Hinder Climbers' Access to Mount Everest

USA Today reports that Monday’s Earthquake in China could affect access for those seeking to reach the summit of the World’s highest peak.

The city of Chengdu, home to 10 million and a gateway for Himalayan trekkers and climbers, saw extensive damage to the city’s structures including rail lines and the hotels and hostels that house thousands of travelers en route to the mountains.

The traditional route to the Himalayas involves a plane flight or a train ride to Chengdu, followed by a long, bumpy bus or jeep trip west through steep mountain ranges. Chengdu also is a center for makers of mountaineering equipment and the government offices that issue travel permits to the western regions.

The New York Times reports that officials raised their estimate of the number of people killed by the quake to nearly 15,000, with thousands more trapped and missing in remote areas. The epicenter of the quake was said to have reached a 7.9 magnitude.

Earlier this year, Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the peak of Mount Everest (29,035 feet), died at the age of 88. And in 2007, 71-year-old Japanese man Katsusuke Yanagisawa became the oldest man to reach the top.

Check out this video from CNN of the Olympic torch reaching the summit earlier this month:

Tourism in the Himalayas is expected to feel the effects of the earthquake for years to come.

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