Chinese mountaineer Wang Jing, the only climber to scale Mount Everest from Nepal side this season, looks on during an event to celebrate her ascent in Kathmandu. (AFP photo)
Nepal has recognised a Chinese mountaineer's summit of Mount Everest this season, a tourism ministry official said Tuesday, despite controversy over her use of a helicopter during the ascent.
Wang Jing summited the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) peak on May 23, accompanied by five local guides, but Nepalese officials initially held back from logging the climb because she used a helicopter part of the way.
Wang, 41, told authorities she used a chopper to drop off tent equipment at an advanced camp before descending to base camp and climbing the mountain on foot, said tourism ministry official Madhusudhan Burlakoti.
"We investigated the issue and decided to recognise her summit. We believe she returned to base camp after using the helicopter to deliver supplies and then climbed on foot," Burlakoti told AFP.
"We have awarded certificates to her and to the five Nepalese guides who accompanied her," Burlakoti added.
Her ascent came just over a month after an avalanche killed 16 Nepalese guides in the deadliest ever accident on the world's tallest peak.
Officials had earlier said Wang skipped the section hit by the avalanche, flying directly to Camp 2, an advanced base camp at an elevation of 6,400 metres where climbers spend time to adjust to the increased altitude.
Nepal traditionally only allows flights to Camp 2 to conduct rescues, but teams were allowed to use choppers to transport equipment last season as the route below, normally prepared by guides with ropes and ladders, had not been completed.
Most mountaineers dropped plans to scale Everest from the Nepalese side -- the easiest and most popular route up the peak -- after the avalanche, effectively ending this year's climbing season.