An Olympic torch has made it to the summit of Mount Everest, amid tight security which saw the world’s highest mountain closed to all mountaineers other than the official Chinese squad.
Tibetan Tsering Wangmo, a 21-year-old student from Lhasa, held the torch aloft at 9.16 this morning, in a ceremony broadcast live by Chinese state television. A team of 19 climbers had helped the Olympic flame on its way to the summit.
The controversy has dogged the Olympic relay and the Everest trip was no exception. No other climbers, either on the northern, Tibetan side of the mountain, or in neighbouring Nepal to the South, have been allowed above 7,500m in the weeks leading up to the Olympic torch summit attempt. A BBC News team was expelled from the Nepalese base camp for trying to report on events there.
Among those delayed by the ban have been the eccentric English explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and his mountaineering leader Kenton Cool.
The torch was a special propane-fuelled one, and was lit from flame carried in a special container in the mountaineer’s rucksack. It was designed to survive the high winds, low temperatures and wet conditions on the summit.
The Chinese national flag and two Olympic flags were also unfurled by the party of summiteers.
Another, less specialised torch is currently travelling through the provinces of China.
The party of mountaineers set off from their camp at 8,300m about 3am and reached the 8,848m (29,029ft)summit just over six hours later, in conditions of cloud and snow.
High winds and heavy snow had delayed the attempt earlier in the week.