Nepal honours HK's Everest conquerors

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 June, 2007, 12:00am

'If the mountain wants you, the mountain takes you.' That's the advice of Hong Kong mountaineer Chung Kin-man, who climbed Mount Everest in 2003 after three unsuccessful attempts over more than 10 years.

Mr Chung was one of three Hong Kong residents to be given the 'Felicitation of Mt Everest Summiteers' award at the 21st International Travel Expo in Hong Kong in a ceremony hosted yesterday by the Nepal Tourism Board. The other two were Louis Bowen and Cham Yich-kai, who climbed the mountain in 1992.

Mr Chung, 54, from the Hong Kong Mountaineering Training Centre, now draws on his 35 years of experience to motivate people in schools and hospitals. 'I want to tell people that they should never abandon their dreams or retreat when they encounter setbacks,' he said.

In his quest to reach the 8,850-metre summit on the border between Tibet and Nepal, Mr Chung was trapped in crevasses, hit by rockfalls and lost a fellow climber.

And when he finally succeeded, the dangers were brought home anew when they found the bodies of three climbers, whom he believed had been dead for about 10 years.

'My team and I were upset when we saw them, but we were prepared for it. We had to keep a clear mind and keep going,' Mr Chung said. 'You are standing between life and death when climbing mountains, but it is not necessarily life-threatening. Climbers need to make their own decisions whether to continue, based on their physical state and the environmental conditions.'

Mr Chung, who has also travelled to the North Pole, has fulfilled his dream of climbing the highest peaks on the seven continents but keeps seeking more challenges. 'Plan your work and work your plan,' he said. 'If life is smooth with no setbacks, what is the meaning of living?'

Mr Bowen said he had been 'spiritually touched' by climbing Mount Everest. 'It was the most significant experience I have ever had. It will be always in my heart.'

He said the Nepalis were helpful and encouraging and their country's landscape inspiring. He hoped that more people would visit Nepal.

Lincoln Linn Tak Chun, the Nepal Tourism Board's honorary representative in Hong Kong, said the board wanted to promote Nepal in Hong Kong. 'Traditionally, Chinese people want to enjoy spas, delicious food and fabulous hotels, but they avoid wildlife travel. Nepal is one of the places in the world that is still well-preserved. I hope the younger generations can change their mind and enjoy a tour in Nepal.'

There are only three flights to Nepal from Hong Kong each week, but Madhav Prasad Ghimire, secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, said airlines including Cathay Pacific and Dragonair had been invited to increase this to 28.