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Climbers look forward to flame reaching Qomolangma top
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Mountaineers are eagerly awaiting the Olympic flame's ascent of Mount Qomolangma and have expressed their confidence in the unprecedented torch relay.

The Olympic torch is set to scale the Tibetan peak someday in May as part of the domestic leg of the relay for the Beijing Olympics, which start on August 8.

"It (the Olympic flame's ascent of Mt. Qomolangma) is a once-in-life chance for the Chinese climbers as mountaineering is not a competitive sport and hardly listed in the Olympic family, so the ascent can serve as an opportunity to make our own contribution to the Beijing Olympics. I really consider it an honor," said female climber Guisang, who scaled the world's highest peak in 1990 and 1999.

"The history of human mountaineering is the history of challenging themselves. The purpose (of mountaineering) complies with that of Olympics," she added.

The 51-year-old ethnic Tibetan, who has retired from the Tibetan Mountaineering Team and started a new career as coach, will have no chance to carry the Olympic torch to the top of Mt. Qomolangma, but she said the honor of backing up the climbing team is the same with climbing.

"It will be no problem to climb this time, because the Chinese Mountaineering Team has had enough experience while we have made much progress in logistics than before," added Guisang, who is now with the the Qomolangma media center and is in charge of the catering. "If I have time, I will go to Beijing this summer to enjoy the Games."

The Chinese Mountaineering Team has scaled Mt. Qomolangma for more than 10 times since its launch in 1960.

The peak that straddles the border between China and Nepal is respected as "Mother Goddess" by ethnic Tibetans.

Talking about the torch ascent, Liu Jian, deputy director of the Qomolangma media center, didn't hide his confidence.

"The Olympic flame is holy and we will add meaning to the Olympic spirit by sending it atop the world's tallest peak," said Liu, who also scaled the mountain in 2003.

"It is a great challenge but the Chinese are a people who keep promise and this time it is no exception," said Liu, also a journalist himself.

Beijing has promised in its bidding reports that the holy fire of the Olympics will reach the world's highest peak. It will be the first time for the Olympic torch relay to be held on the 8844.43-meter mountain.

Liu, 46, is no longer qualified for climbing the awe-inspiring summit and he has been named a torch bearer in southwest China's Sichuan province, his hometown, which disenabled him as a torch runner elsewhere, but he bore no grudge about it and said it is great honor to participate in the event in his own way.

"I believe the torch climbers are physically and mentally ready, and they will fulfill the mission," he said.

Sun Bin, chief of the Olympic Torch Relay Center Qomolangma Operations Team, climbed Mt. Qomolangma with the team for the test-run of the specially designed torch and lantern last year. The 31-year-old is in his prime mountaineering time but for the coordinate work in the Beijing Olympic torch relay Qomolangma leg, he had to give up the ascent mission.

"I feel no regret really," said Sun.

"As mountaineering is a collective job, many people including me are serving the ascent right now. Many top climbers gave all out for the assault, and I just do my own part.

"Anyway, to climb the earth's summit (last year) is a huge honor, especially on a mission to test the Olympic torch and lantern."

(Xinhua News Agency May 6, 2008)

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