Nepal airport, route named after Everest heroes

Sir Edmund Hillary (L) and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa display their climbing gear at the British Embassy in Kathmandu following their conquest of Mount Everest in 1953 in this undated handout photograph. Nepal has named an airport in the remote Everest region after Hillary and Norgay Sherpa. REUTERS/Picture Norgay Archive/Handout

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal has named an airport in the remote Everest region after pioneering climbers Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, who first climbed Mount Everest in 1953.

Tourism Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung said the airstrip Hillary built at Lukla, gateway to the world’s highest mountain, would be known as the Tenzing-Hillary airport and that the trekking route from there to Everest base camp had also been named after the two climbers.

New Zealander Hillary, who died last month at the age of 88, and Nepal’s Tenzing Norgay, who passed away in 1986 at the age of 72, climbed the 8,850 metre Everest summit in 1953.

Hillary built the remote hilly airstrip in the 1960s at Lukla, clinging to a hillside several days walk from the base camp at Mount Everest and is described by mountaineers as a thrilling start to an attempt on the mountain’s south face.

Hillary also carried out conservation work and helped construct schools, hospitals, water supply schemes and trails in the remote Solukhumbhu district, home to Mount Everest and the ethnic poor Sherpa community known for their climbing skills.

Nepal also plans to name one of the hundreds of its Himalayan peaks after the New Zealand climber, he said.

“We also want to install the Hillary and Tenzing statues at the mountaineering museum in Pokhara,” he said referring to the resort town in west Nepal.