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Peace climbers to scale Everest

Followers of different faiths will unite on an international team of peace climbers to scale Mt Everest.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2006 13:16 IST

Followers of different faiths will unite on an international team of "peace climbers" in a bid to scale the world's highest peak next month, organisers said on Tuesday.

The Mount Everest "peace project" mountaineers come from seven countries and five of the world's religions - Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism.

The team is to converge in Tibet on April 8 and set about climbing the Tibetan side of Everest.

"We are trying to make a human statement," said Lance Trumbull, the California man who got the idea for the climb while on a self-imposed odyssey in Asia nearly four years ago.

"The mountain of intolerance, prejudice and ignorance can be surmounted. People of different faiths and cultures can, together, do amazing things."

The climb team includes Palestinian Ali Bushnaq and Israelis Micha Yaniv and Dudu Yifrah, according to Trumbull.

Other members of the team are from India, Nepal, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.

"It took a year to find Ali, because Palestinian climbers don't really exist except for him," Trumbull said.

The peace climb was an unexpected by-product of a harsh divorce that prompted Trumbull to "do something radically un-American" and get rid of nearly everything he owned, including his book-selling business.

Toting what was left of his possessions in a couple of duffle bags, Trumbull moved to Nepal and wound up on a "mountain-climbing pilgrimage" throughout the region and Russia.

Trumbull recounted overlooking a valley in India in 2002 when "God or something" whispered to him the idea of a multi-cultural peace climb of Everest.

Trumbull, who was a religious studies major during his college years at the University of California, Berkeley, noted they "even have an atheist" mountaineer on the team.

"I feel a bit like Frodo in 'Lord of the Rings,' because this has been my life's mission," Trumbull told AFP. "To make this thing a reality."

Trumbull returned to Kathmandu, built the website www.everestpeaceproject.org, and set about recruiting climbers and sponsors.

Companies have provided gear, and Japanese electronics giant Panasonic gave the team "a big chunk of change" and Toughbook laptop computers for the climbers to take up the mountain, Trumbull said.

"Climbing Everest is not cheap," said Trumbull, noting the price tag on the outing could easily top 350,000 dollars. "It's been an uphill battle. But, for an Everest climb that is appropriate."

Plans were in place for an acclaimed documentarian to film the climb, but organizers were still searching for a sponsor to cover the expected 150,000 dollar cost.

First Published: Mar 08, 2006 12:05 IST