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Nepal unveils bust of pioneering French climber Maurice Herzog

By AFP

June 3, 2024 05:31 PM


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Nepal on Monday unveiled a statue of French climber Maurice Herzog, the first to summit the world's 10th highest mountain Annapurna, calling it a symbol of the "indomitable human spirit".

The 8,091-metre (26,545-foot) Annapurna is a dangerous and difficult climb, and the avalanche-prone Himalayan peak has a higher death rate than Everest.

Herzog led the first ascent of Annapurna along with his compatriot Louis Lachenal, reaching the summit on June 3, 1950 without oxygen -- causing a sensation around the world.

It was the first successful ascent of any mountain above 8,000 metres.

"This day commemorates the first human ascent of Mount Annapurna by Maurice Herzog back in 1950," Nepal's foreign minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha said at a ceremony in Pokhara, where the statue was revealed.

"This day serves as a reminder of the indomitable human spirit and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead," Shrestha said.

Nepalis placed traditional scarves around the necks of the pioneering mountaineer's golden-coloured bust, which will be carried up to the mountain's base camp.

"We are carrying the statue of Herzog to base camp, and it will be installed there," Tej Bahadur Gurung, chairperson of the Maurice Herzog Trekking Trail, told AFP.

Herzog described his arrival at the summit as the most exquisite moment of his life.

Since then, over 400 people have reached the top of Annapurna.

On his return to France, Herzog was feted like a film star.

Three years after their climb, Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary stepped onto the top of Everest for the first time.

Herzog died in France in 2012 aged 93.


AFP


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