Beijing : A group of 50 climbers engaged in a trial run Friday as China held final preparations to conquer the world’s tallest peak, Mt. Everest, with the Olympic torch for the Beijing Games, news reports said Friday.
The ascent of the 8,848-metres Mt. Everest is due to be one of the most spectacular and controversial parts of the torch relay which covers a total 137,000 km around the world.
The flame for the climb was taken from the original Olympic flame lit in ancient Olympia last month. The regular torch relay concluded in Hong Kong Friday.
Exiled Tibetans oppose the relay legs in Tibet – which include the Everest climb – because they say that China only wants to underline its power over the region. China last month crushed unrest in Tibet which led to worldwide protests which also overshadowed the torch relay.
Xinhua added: Zhang Zhijian, spokesman of the Chinese mountaineering team, Friday announced the squad that will carry the Olympic flame to world’s highest peak, the Mount Everest.
The 50-member team consists of torch bearers, coaches, officials and others, Zhang said at a press conference in the media centre at the Mt. Everest base camp which is located at about 5,040 meters above sea level.
Zhang said the exact number of torchbearers who are to take the flame to the peak would be announced at the next media briefing.
He said the mountaineering and the support teams include, besides the Han Chinese, Tibetans and other ethnic groups such as Hui, Tu and Tujia.
“The ascent is officially called the Beijing Olympics Torch Relay Qomolangma (the Everest) Leg, and the team is called the Chinese Mountaineering Team,” he said.