Olympic Torch Reaches Top of Mt. Everest

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May 8 – The Olympic Flame has reached the world’s tallest mountain. Chinese climbers reached the summit of Mt. Everest this morning, hoisting the flame at 9:18 am Beijing time.

After a turbulent world relay in which protests dogged the torch, and strict measures by both China and neighboring Nepal to bar access to Mt. Everest during the torch’s ascent drew controversy, Cering Wangmo, a 21-year-old Tibetan woman and the youngest member of the expedition, carried the flame atop the peak.

State television showed images of the mountaineers, masks removed, shouting and cheering. One climber shouted “Long Live Beijing.”

The decision to allow an ethnic Tibetan be the first to hold aloft the torch is telling. Much of the protests that greeted the torch in its worldwide tour resulted from China’s response to riots that broke out in Tibet and ethnic Tibetan areas of western China in March. Of the 31-person team that scaled the mountain, 22 were Tibetan

The climbers started their ascent at 3 a.m. Thursday along the Tibetan side of Everest. The torches and fuel used in the relay were specially developed to allow the flame to continue burning at such high elevations.

The Everest flame will be united with the Olympic torch that is currently making its way through Mainland China. The torch is scheduled to continue its tour in the South China city of Shenzhen today.