By Gayane Mkrtchyan
Three Armenian mountain climbers are among 56 who will participate in “International Expedition: Everest: Northern Wall 2005”, dedicated to the 60th anniversary of victory over facist Germany.
Commencing March 24, climbers hope to reach the top of Mount Everest by May 9.
Tonoyan and Nersesyants on the peak of Aragats
“Many have consigned the memory of their fathers and grandfathers to oblivion. Today there are many cases of violence and terrorism. This all causes tension in international relations. ‘Northern Wall 2005’ is one of the forms of combating all this,” says President of the Mountaineering Federation of Armenia Hayk Tonoyan.
The organizer of the event is the Federal Foundation of Financial Engineering of Russia. It is conducted with the official support of the Security Council Academy and the Modern Humanitarian Academy.
Tonoyan says that the proposal was made last September. Mountaineers from Russia, the United States, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan will mainly take part in it. Two sportsmen will participate from each CIS country.
Tonyan and mountaineering instructor Tigran Nersesyants will participate in the expedition. The third Armenian is Lev Sarkisov of Georgia, who became the oldest person to climb Everest, in 1999, at age 60.
“The mountaineers will take with them to the top of Everest a whole set of TV equipment to ensure live broadcast from a height of 8,848 meters above sea-level,” Tonoyan says. “This is sure to complicate the climb.”
The goal of the project is to climb the world’s highest top and call on mankind in a live broadcast to preserve world peace and combat terrorism.
“This commemoration event is very important for Armenia as well. It cannot be regarded as a mere sport project. After all, Armenia had a broad participation in the Patriotic War,” says Nersesyants. (An estimated 300,000 Armenians died in WWII.)
So far 1,500 people have visited the world’s highest point. Besides Sarkisov, Armenian Igor Khalatyan reached the peak in 2000.
Nersesyants says: “It seems that Everest is a mountain already conquered by humankind and interest in it should be gradually declining, but it is not so. Everest is shrouded in mystery. It continues to attract the world’s greatest sportsmen. To be on top of Mount Everest is like being in space.”
The North Wall
And Tonoyan explains that it is not a coincidence that organizers have chosen the most difficult route through which they will climb for the first time. The expedition will consist of high-class mountaineers. One united team with one plan will work for the whole duration of the project.
According to the Federation’s president, the participating sides are to propagandize the event in their countries, inform their governments, NGOs, society. The website of the organizations (www.everest.su) also presents the words of welcome addressed to all the members of the expedition by Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and Armenia’s Minister of Defense Serzh Sargsyan.
Nersesyants says that some of the financial expenditures of the participants are covered by the organizers, which includes property of common use – tents, ropes, oxygen, etc. However, a certain sum ($5,000) is a contribution of the participants, which includes expenses for personal property.
“Of course, there are problems. But we hope that we will find sponsors who would take care of it. We try to find the funds to be presented duly. After all, we will be representing not only ourselves, but also Armenia. It is a matter of prestige and pride,” says Tonoyan.
The mountaineers say with regret that three years ago they failed to participate in an international expedition to Mount Everest, which was conducted especially for the countries of the South Caucasus.
“Both Azerbaijan and Georgia participated then, but we couldn’t purely for financial reasons. But we will do everything to ensure our participation in this event,” says Nersesyants.