Climber accused of cheating after scaling Everest by chopper
The first climber to scale Mount Everest since Sherpas went on strike after 16 were killed in an avalanche has been accused of cheating by flying to the mountain's upper reaches by helicopter.
Wang Ying (41), the owner of a multi-million-pound Chinese outdoor clothing firm, defied the strike to reach the peak on Friday.
Her expedition, part of a world record attempt to climb the seven highest mountains on the seven continents and reach both poles, was cancelled last month when the Sherpas began a protest over compensation. The deaths in the avalanche and the ensuing dispute led to this year's Everest climbing season being abandoned.
Ms Wang initially returned to Kathmandu but later returned to Everest in secret with five Sherpas who had never climbed the mountain before.
Her achievement was officially recognised by Nepal's tourism minister yesterday before she flew to Alaska to climb Mount McKinley and complete the world record.
But her achievement has left leading mountaineers angry over its secrecy and her use of a helicopter to bypass one of the most perilous stretches on the slopes and begin her climb just 8,000ft below the summit.
Senior climbers publicly disassociated themselves from her decision amid fears that it could further provoke striking Sherpas, while others said the use of the helicopter had brought the challenge of scaling Everest to a "new low".
Tamding Sherpa, a leader of her original expedition team, said he had never heard of helicopters being used for an official ascent. "It looks like it's cheating," he said.
Dambar Parajuli, president of Nepal's Expedition Operators Association, said helicopter-assisted climbs had not been officially recognised before. "If they recognise her climb when she used a helicopter to Camp Two, then they'll have to allow this for others in the future," he said.
One senior British climber, who asked not to be named, said he believed the use of the helicopter marked a "new low" in the growing commercialisation of Everest by officials and expedition companies seeking to make it easier for climbers to get to the top. (© Daily Telegraph, London)