Djokovic Conquers ‘Everest’, Eyes 52-Year Landmark At French Open

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning against Spain's Rafael Nadal at the end of their men's singles semi-final tennis match on Day 13 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 11, 2021. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning against Spain’s Rafael Nadal at the end of their men’s singles semi-final tennis match on Day 13 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 11, 2021. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic can become the first man in 52 years to win all four Grand Slam titles twice in the French Open final on Sunday after conquering Rafael Nadal, the ‘Mount Everest’ of Roland Garros.

World number one Djokovic takes on Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas for the title with tennis history on the line.

Victory for the Serb will take him alongside Roy Emerson and Rod Laver as the only men to capture the four majors more than once.

It’s an achievement that has proved even beyond the capabilities of Nadal and Roger Federer.

It is so rare an accomplishment that it hasn’t happened since 1969 when Laver completed his second calendar Grand Slam.

Djokovic can pocket a 19th Slam with victory and move just one behind the record of 20 jointly held by Nadal and Federer.

Djokovic insists there will be no letdown physically or emotionally after reaching the final in Paris for a sixth time with an epic triumph over 13-time champion Nadal.

“It’s not the first time that I play an epic semi-final in a Grand Slam and then I have to come back in less than 48 hours and play finals,” said the 34-year-old.

“My recovery abilities have been pretty good throughout my career.”

His four-hour, four-set battle with Nadal is already jostling for a prime spot in the list of “greatest ever matches” at the Slams.

– ‘Never believed’ –

It featured a lung-busting 92-minute third set and required government intervention to allow the 5,000 fans inside Court Philippe Chatrier to watch the match’s conclusion despite it extending beyond the 11pm Covid-19 curfew.

The 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 triumph gave Djokovic the honour of being the only man to have beaten Nadal in Paris more than once, having first achieved it in the 2015 quarter-finals.

Nadal has only lost three times in 108 matches since his title-winning debut in 2005.

Djokovic, the 2016 champion, said it was his best win in Paris and ranked it among his “three greatest” ever performances.

“It’s hard to find words bigger than all the superlatives you can think of for Rafa’s achievements at Roland Garros,” said Djokovic who now leads their series 30-28 and had lost three finals in the French capital to Nadal.

“Each time you step on the court with him, you know that you have to kind of climb Mount Everest to win against this guy here.”

Djokovic has already admitted he’s a fan of Tsitsipas, proclaiming him as a Grand Slam champion in the making.

“He is a hard worker, dedicated, nice guy,” said Djokovic.

“He’s very smart and wise. I love the fact that he is more than just a tennis player and he’s always looking to learn from experience and to understand something new about himself.

“That’s the trait of a champion.”

Djokovic will be playing in his 29th Slam final on Sunday.

He holds a 5-2 record over Tsitsipas, a run which includes all three meetings on clay.

At last year’s Roland Garros, Djokovic won their semi-final over five sets.

“We played an epic five-setter last year in the semis here. I know it’s going to be another tough one,” added Djokovic who also defeated Tsitsipas in Rome on the eve of the French Open.

“I’m hoping I can recharge my batteries as much as I can because I’m going to need some power and energy for that one.”

Tsitsipas, 22, and 12 years younger than the Serb, is in his first Slam final having ended a run of three semi-final losses by defeating Alexander Zverev over five sets on Friday.

Victory on Sunday would make him the first Greek player to win a Slam title.

He would also become the youngest champion in Paris since Nadal in 2008 and overall at the Slams since Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open.

“I’ve never believed, have never really thought at what age this achievement might come,” said Tsitsipas.

“But I’m really happy with myself. I think I’ve shown good discipline so far. I’ve been progressive.”

Tsitsipas is the hottest player on tour in 2021 with a season-leading 39 wins.

Twenty-two of those have come on clay and have reaped a Masters title in Monte Carlo as well as Lyon.

Tsitsipas also had a match point in the Barcelona final against eventual champion Nadal.

“There is the final on Sunday, which is exciting. I’m looking forward to leaving my entire body on the court,” said the Greek who knocked out second seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals.

China Shuts Down Mount Everest Over Coronavirus

Mount Everest

China has cancelled permits for Mount Everest because of the coronavirus, expedition organisers said Thursday, ahead of the spring climbing season on the world’s highest peak.

Last year’s traffic-clogged spring window saw a record 885 people summit Everest, 644 of them from Nepal and 241 from the northern flank in Tibet.

The Nepal side remains open for now although some expedition operators have seen cancellations and climbers have been asked to submit a 14-day travel history and medical reports.

The Chinese authorities “have informed us that the mountain will close from the north side,” Lukas Furtenbach of Austria-based Furtenbach Adventures told AFP.

Furtenbach said that he will be shifting his 11 clients to Nepal.

Tourist areas in Tibet have been closed since January, according to the local tourism office.

The China Tibet Mountaineering Association, which issues permits for Everest, declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

Another company, Alpenglow Expeditions, has cancelled its Everest plans.

“I am in agreement with China’s decision. It is responsible… Climbing a mountain is not currently worth the transmission risk in the Base Camps, nor upon returning home,” Adrian Ballinger of Alpenglow Expeditions said in a statement Wednesday.

Some companies in Nepal have also seen cancellations.

“We had bookings from 23 climbers, but two groups have already cancelled. We might have just 8 to 10 climbers this year,” said Pasang Tenje Sherpa of Pioneer Adventure.

A Nepali team, specialised in fixing the climbing route, is currently on its way to the base camp to begin fixing ropes on Everest.

Everest attracts hundreds of mountaineers from all over the world each spring, when a window of good weather opens up between late April and the end of May, prompting a rush for the summit.

Nepal has so far seen only one confirmed case of the coronavirus.

It has suspended visas on arrival for visitors from eight countries badly hit, meaning they have to apply beforehand and submit a health certificate.

AFP

Long Queue On Everest As Two More Climbers Die Reaching Peak

This handout photo taken on May 22, 2019, and released by climber Nirmal Purja’s Project Possible expedition shows heavy traffic of mountain climbers lining up to stand at the summit of Mount Everest.

 

A long queue of climbers has formed near the summit of Mount Everest as expedition organisers on Thursday reported two more deaths on the world’s highest mountain.

More than 200 climbers were taking advantage of clear weather on Wednesday to attempt to summit from both Nepal and China, but teams had to line up for hours to reach the top — risking frostbite and altitude sickness.

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An American and Indian climber are the latest fatalities, their expedition organisers said, on one of the busiest-ever days on the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) peak.

Donald Lynn Cash, 55, collapsed at the summit on Wednesday as he was taking photographs, while Anjali Kulkarni, also 55, died while descending after reaching the top.

Kulkarni’s expedition organiser, Arun Treks, said heavy traffic at the summit had delayed her descent and caused her death.

“She had to wait for a long time to reach the summit and descend,” said Thupden Sherpa. “She couldn’t move down on her own and died as Sherpa guides brought her down.”

Pasang Tenje Sherpa, of Pioneer Adventure, told AFP that Cash collapsed on the summit and died close to Hillary Step as guides were bringing him back.

The deaths take the toll on Everest to four this season, after an Indian climber died last week and an Irish mountaineer is presumed dead after he slipped and fell close to the summit.

Mountaineering in Nepal has become a lucrative business since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent of Everest in 1953.

The Himalayan nation has issued a record 381 permits costing $11,000 each for this year’s spring climbing season, sparking fears of bottlenecks en route to the summit if poor weather cuts down the number of climbing days.

Most Everest hopefuls are escorted by a Nepali guide, meaning more than 750 climbers will tread the same path to the top in the coming weeks.

At least 140 others have been granted permits to scale Everest from the northern flank in Tibet, according to expedition operators. This could take the total past last year’s record of 807 people reaching the summit.

Many Himalayan mountains — including Everest — are at peak climbing season, with the window of good weather between late April and the end of May.

At least six other foreign climbers have died on other 8,000-metre Himalayan peaks this season, while two are missing.

AFP

Three Killed In Aircraft Runway Accident Near Mount Everest

A Summit Air Let L-410 Turbolet aircraft bound for Kathmandu is seen after it hit two helicopters during take off at Lukla airport, the main gateway to the Everest region./ AFP

 

A small plane veered off the runway and hit two helicopters while taking off near Mount Everest on Sunday, killing three people and injuring three, officials said.

The accident happened at Lukla airport which is the main gateway to the Everest region and is reputed to be one of the most difficult in the world for landings and take-offs.

A co-pilot of the turbo-prop Let-410 plane run by Summit Air bound for Kathmandu and a police officer on the ground were killed on the spot, Lukla airport official Ema Nath Adhikari told AFP.

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Another policeman died in hospital in Kathmandu, a police spokesman confirmed.

“The plane slipped towards the helipad during take-off and collided with two helicopters. The injured have been sent to Kathmandu for treatment,” Adhikari said.

“We are not sure about the cause of the accident.”

Pictures from the scene showed mangled and scorched wreckage of the plane and helicopters.

Lukla airport is used by thousands of trekkers and climbers heading for the Everest region each year.

It is particularly busy in April as the spring mountain climbing season begins.

Nepal’s aviation industry has boomed in recent years, flying tourists and goods to remote corners of the Himalayan nation where road access is limited.

But the impoverished country has a poor air safety record due to weak training and maintenance. The European Union has banned all Nepalese airlines from its airspace over safety concerns.

Seven people, including the country’s tourism minister, were killed in February when a helicopter crashed in the hilly east.

China Tackles Waste Problem On Mount Everest

(FILES) This file picture taken on May 21, 2018, shows discarded climbing equipment and rubbish scattered around Camp 4 of Mount Everest. DOMA SHERPA / AFP

 

Climbers with pressing needs on Mount Everest will soon find an “eco-friendly” toilet at a Chinese campsite 7,028 metres (23,058 feet) above sea level in an ongoing campaign to deal with the peak’s waste problem.

Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world’s highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending mountaineers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind.

Fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters and even human excrement pollute the well-trodden route to the summit of the 8,848-metre peak.

During the climbing season this spring, a Chinese expedition company will add what state media dubbed an “eco-friendly” loo at the higher campsite on the northern slope in Tibet.

“The toilet makes it easy to collect human waste produced by the climbers as there is a barrel with rubbish bags underneath the toilet,” Xinhua quoted Pema Tinley, deputy secretary general of the Tibet Mountaineering Association, as saying.

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The waste will be collected and brought down the mountain.

Similar facilities have been installed at lower camps, including at the 5,200-metre north base camp, in previous years, according to Xinhua.

The waste from the base camp is taken away daily and is provided to local farmers to use as fertiliser, the news agency reported in February, citing observations by its reporter and a member of the mountaineering management team.

The temporary toilets will be removed at the end of the climbing season.

Governments on both sides of the mountain have been battling the human waste and trash left by an increasing number of climbers.

In February, China banned non-climbers from accessing its Everest base camp in Tibet in an attempt to clean up its side of the mountain.

Meanwhile, engineers in Nepal are considering installing a biogas plant near the more popular south base camp that would turn climber poo into useful fertiliser.

Currently, raw sewage from the camp is carried to the next village –- a one-hour walk –- and dumped into trenches, where it risks contaminating water sources down in the valley.

AFP

 

 

Australian Paraplegic Aims To Reach Everest With Wheelchair

In this picture taken on March 15, 2018 wheelchair-bound Australian Scott Doolan makes his way along a street in Kathmandu. A wheelchair-bound Australian is aiming to become the first paraplegic to reach Everest base camp unaided, a breathless trek he reckons he will mostly make on his hands. PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP

 

A wheelchair-bound Australian is aiming to become the first paraplegic to reach Everest base camp unaided, a breathless trek he reckons he will make mostly on his hands.

Scott Doolan, 28, sets out Friday for Mount Everest’s base camp, which lies 5,364 metres (17,598 feet) above sea level and is traditionally only accessible on foot or by helicopter. He is out to prove that it is also accessible to wheelchair users.

Doolan will be using a specially designed wheelchair with mountain bike wheels when the trails allow, but thinks he will mostly be on his hands with a friend holding his legs in a move he’s dubbed “wheelbarrowing”.

“I jump out of my chair and my mate Matt, he’ll grab me and hold my ankles and I basically walk on my hands,” he said, explaining a technique that’s similar to the wheelbarrow race of school sports days.

Doolan has spent the last eight months training for the trek, doing daily cardiovascular and strength training.

He also spent time in Australia’s Blue Mountains to get some experience on trails, wearing a mask that limits oxygen flow in a bid to replicate the high altitude conditions that await him in the Himalayas.

The dramatic trek to Everest base camp begins from Lukla — 140 kilometres (86 miles) east of Kathmandu — and follows an ancient trading route that once linked Nepal and Tibet, taking hikers over a soaring pass before dropping down into the lush Khumjung valley.

A series of narrow suspension bridges criss-cross the river that runs along the valley floor, before the route climbs sharply towards the base of Mount Everest.

Along the route there are steps and narrow paths hewn into the valley wall, forcing hikers to clamber over rocks and occasionally trek in snow or mud, all at an altitude where limited oxygen can cause headaches and nausea, and if left untreated a potentially fatal build-up of fluid in the lungs.

“I have no idea what it’s going to be like. Obviously there are going to be parts when I can’t physically go in a wheelchair so I’m going to get out and use my hands. That will probably be the most challenging of it all,” Doolan said.
“Hopefully I don’t get altitude sickness.”

‘Rise above it’

Every year, Everest’s base camp is transformed into a nylon tent city of around 1,500 people for two months starting in April, when climbers descend on the mountain with the sole aim of reaching its summit.

Meanwhile, around 5,000 trekkers a year take the eight to 10 days to trek to the base of the world’s highest peak, according to figures from Nepal’s tourism department. Doolan expects to take about twice as long and will then have to retrace his route back to Lukla.

Doolan has been confined to a wheelchair since he was 17 when he broke his spine in a motorcycle accident.

An athletic teenager, it took him a few years to get back to the gym after the accident, but once he did, it helped him come to terms with his disability, he said.

And then he met Matt Laycock, founder of the Apexgen clothing brand, which has a philanthropic mission that aims to build awareness of mental health and disability under the tagline “Rise above it”.

It was Laycock who came up with the idea that Doolan should try to become the first paraplegic to get to Everest’s base camp mostly under his own power. The company is backing the trip, which has cost Aus$70,000 (US$54,400) including Aus$15,000 for Doolan’s custom wheelchair.

Laycock pitched the idea to him over coffee — and Doolan initially said no. But a few weeks later he came round to the idea.

“Anything you set your mind to you can achieve it. That’s what I’ve learned so far. Your mind is your only limitation,” said Doolan of the precipitous challenge awaiting him.

Nepal Bans Solo Climbers From Mount Everest

Nepal Government has banned solo climbers from scaling its mountains, including Mount Everest, in a bid to reduce accidents, an official said Saturday.

The cabinet late Thursday endorsed a revision to the Himalayan nation’s mountaineering regulations, banning solo climbers from its mountains — one of a string of measures being flagged ahead of the 2018 spring climbing season.

“The changes have barred solo expeditions, which were allowed before,” Maheshwor Neupane, secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, told AFP.

Neupane said that the law was revised to make mountaineering safer and decrease deaths.

Experienced Swiss climber Ueli Steck lost his life in April this year when he slipped and fell from a steep ridge during a solo acclimatisation climb to Nuptse, a peak neighbouring Everest.

The ban is likely to anger elite solo mountaineers, who enjoy the challenge of climbing alone, even eschewing bottled oxygen, and who blame a huge influx of commercial expeditions for creating potentially deadly bottlenecks on the world’s tallest peak.

The cabinet also endorsed a ban on double amputee and blind climbers, although Everest has drawn multitudes of mountaineers wanting to overcome their disabilities and achieve the formidable feat.

New Zealander Mark Inglis, who lost both his legs to frostbite, became the first double amputee to reach the top of the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) peak in 2006.

Blind American Erik Weihenmayer scaled Everest in May 2001 and later became the only visually-impaired person to summit the highest peaks on all seven continents.

Aspiring Everest climber Hari Budha Magar, a former Gurkha soldier who lost both his legs when he was deployed in Afghanistan, said the ban was discriminatory.

“If the cabinet passes, this is #Discrimination against disable people, breaking #HumanRights,” Magar said in a Facebook post after the decision was proposed early this month.

Thousands of mountaineers flock to Nepal — home to eight of the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000 metres — each spring and autumn when clear weather provides good climbing conditions.

Almost 450 climbers — 190 foreigners and 259 Nepalis — reached the summit of Everest from the south side in Nepal last year.

AFP

Nepal Earthquake: Teenage Boy Rescued After 5 Days

nepalFollowing the earthquake that killed over 5,000 people in Nepal, a teenage boy has been rescued after surviving for five days in the rubble of a building.

A huge crowd cheered as rescuers brought the boy out of the rubble in the capital, Kathmandu from where he was taken to a field hospital.

The boy, Pemba Lama, eventually emerged blinking into the sunlight, as the crowd cheers.

Pemba Lama was carried away on a stretcher with a blue brace strapped around his neck, and has now been taken to an Israeli-run field hospital.

Andrew Olvera, an official from the US Agency for International Development, earlier told the Associated Press news agency that the boy had been trapped between the collapsed floors of the building but was not “too far down”.

Frustration has been growing in parts of rural Nepal over the pace of relief efforts, with some badly-affected villages yet to receive any assistance.

Survivors in some areas told the BBC that they were angry that neither food nor medicine had reached them.

The UN has however appealed for $415m (£270m) to help provide emergency relief over the next three months.

The UN says more than eight million people have been affected by the 7.8-magnitude quake and some thousands of houses have been destroyed.

Meanwhile, relief materials have begun to reach remote regions near the focal point of the natural disaster, but bad weather is hampering the smooth delivery to remote villages.a teenage boy found in the rubble of a building

The government has been criticised for its response to the disaster.

Outside Kathmandu, the relief effort has relied heavily on helicopters, with mountainous roads blocked by landslides triggered by the earthquake.

Laxmi Dhakal, a Spokesperson for Nepal’s Home Ministry, reported that helicopters loaded with rescue workers and relief materials were ready to fly but had been held back by “rainfall and cloudy conditions”.

Nepal Earthquake: Relief Materials Starts Reaching Remote Villages

earthquakeRelief materials have begun to reach remote regions near the focal point of Saturday’s devastating earthquake in Nepal.

As relief efforts continue in the Kathmandu Valley, the United Nations (UN) says the response is broadening to include areas such as Dhading and Gorkha.

The earthquake has claimed thousands of lives as many survivors remain in desperate need of comestibles.

Thousands of people are queuing to board buses and leave the capital, amid fears of further aftershocks.

The government is providing free transport for Kathmandu residents hoping to travel to their hometowns, as school buses have been sent to supplement extensive services.

It is also reported that Police have also been deployed at the main bus station, with thousands of people hoping to leave.

Rescue operations were said to have resumed on Wednesday following bad weather condition.

Report says, a convoy brought rice, oil and sugar to the village of Majuwa, in Gorkha district, and a helicopter is due to fly supplies to the hardest-hit villages of the region.

BBC reports that ”hundreds of thousands of people continue to live in temporary camps in squalid conditions with very little food and water”.

Officials have acknowledged that they have been overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster and that delivering relief to far-flung villages has been challenging.

Army Spokesman, Jagdish Chandra Pokherel said, “The terrain is such that very remote areas take a very long time to reach”, adding “our troops are trying their best.”

On Tuesday, a Nepali-French team pulled a 28-year-old man, Rishi Khanal, from a collapsed apartment block in Kathmandu after he had spent about 80 hours trapped in a room with 3 dead bodies.

On Mount Everest, where the quake triggered an avalanche that killed at least 18 people – all stranded climbers have now been evacuated from base camp as authorities declared an end to the climbing season.