China's Olympic Torch summit team made official

Posted: May 07, 2008 12:51 am EDT

(MountEverest.net) Bianba Zhaxi, Loze, Bianba Dunxhu, JiJi...Wang Yongfeng?!

China has announced the Olympic torch climbing team.

Actually, there's some confusion on the official torch relay website which posted a story today claiming that a Chinese, a Nepalese and a Japanese climber topped out Everest already on May 5. Simultaneously, news of the torch relay team were released.

6,500 meter experience

The official list includes 22 Tibetan and 9 Han Chinese climbers. The team includes members of the Tibetan Mountaineering Guide School and university students with climbing experience, Xinhua reported, "all the recruits must have at least climbed mountains with altitude of 6,500 meters or above for once."

This could explain why the torch hasn't summited yet. Minimum requirement for Everest is at least one previous 8000+ meter summit.

A Xinhua report states that final selection was made last year when in a test run on May 9 and May 24, the Chinese finally placed about 25 climbers in two different groups on Everest summit. The second (Chinese) group carried about half a dozen Olympic torches in cloth sacks attached to their packs, said the torches burned well up there, had a cigarette at the North Col, pulled a few tents in ABC and bailed out. Behind, an empty shell monster BC, and a truck-mounted mobile phone tower. Expect a repeat this year.

Wang Yongfeng

The 2008 Olympic team will reportedly be headed by the "well-known alpinist Wang Yongfeng," assisted by Tibetan coaches Nima Ciren and Ci Luo, Chinese coach Luo Shen and Li Fuqing (Tu ethnic).

This is news to the mountaineering community. China actually has a skilled climbing team (mostly Tibetan) with at least 50, 8000er summits between them. Wang, Nima, Ci, Luo and Li are not among them.

The current Everest Olympic torch leader Wang Yongfeng (born 1963) is a representative of the Chinese Mountaineering Association in Beijing. As for his 8000+ experience, with only two Everest summits (1993 and 2007, both w/oxygen support) and a 2006 Cho Oyu oxygen-supported climb, Wang falls very short of the Tibetan 10+ 8000er summiteers.

He was the first Chinese to climb the "7 summits" (except for Everest, these are neither technical nor high altitude climbs) and in 2002 he led a Chinese group up Kilimanjaro for American outfitter IMG. In 2005 Wang managed to ski one degree to the South Pole - claiming to have reached the frigid landmark on foot (he did one tenth of the required distance).

Wang also led the 2003 Sohu expedition, which claimed to have made the first mobile phone call from the summit of Everest.

Wang Yongfeng is married to Wang Quiyang, who went to the South Pole with him and apparently also skied the last degree to the North Pole (again - a 4-5 day trip).

The Chinese tradition on Everest

Xinhua writes that the climbers were selected on Everest last year. The Himalayan database shows that following a small bunch of Nepalese Sherpas and two Kazakh climbers on May 8; a 14-member team of "unknown Tibetan" climbers plus two Chinese topped out on May 9, 2007.

Later that month, on May 24, a total of nine (named) Chinese climbers summited, including the Wangs. None were veteran Himalaya climbers.

5 Chinese nationals, all of Tibetan origin, have climbed more than 10 of the 14 8000ers as of 2007:
13 - Cering Dorje (Tsering Dorji)
13 - Bianba Zaxi
12 - Loude (Loze)
(12- Rena, died Pakistan 2005)
10 - Akbu.

A bunch more has summited 5-9, 8000ers. Some of the Tibetan ace climbers are now found in the torch team, some are not - including former leader Sam Drug and top climbers such as Cering Dorje and Akbu.

Chances are the 9 Chinese climbers led by the Wang couple from Beijing will grab all the headlines; while sticking to the Chinese Everest tradition of Nepalese and Tibetan climbers fixing ropes for them.

Here goes the full, official Olympic torch summit team list posted on the torch relay Beijing 2008 website:

Tibetan:

Kaizun, Male, Tibetan, DOB: June 6, 1965
Laba, Male, Tibetan, DOB: May 13, 1965
Xiaoqimi, Male, Tibetan, DOB: February 13, 1964
Luoze, Male, Tibetan, DOB: May 10, 1962
Baimachilie, Male, DOB: Tibetan, August 25, 1981
Suolangdunzhu, Male, DOB: Tibetan, June 30, 1982
Jiala, Male, Tibetan, DOB: March 6, 1962
Daqiong, Male, Tibetan, DOB: March 9, 1963
Pubu, Male, Tibetan, DOB: April 9, 1965
Luobuzhandui, Male, DOB: March 25, 1980
Awangzhaxi, Male, Tibetan, DOB: July 3, 1982
Bianbazhaxi, Male, Tibetan, DOB: May 6, 1978
Bianbadunzhu, Male, Tibetan, DOB: May 17, 1979
Xiaozhaxiciren, Male, Tibetan, DOB: May 11, 1982
Dapubudunzhu, Male, Tibetan, DOB: August 6, 1976
Wangduo, Male, Tibetan, DOB: March 26, 1976
Pingcuo, Male, Tibetan, DOB: May 11, 1978
Cipei, Male, Tibetan, DOB: March 5, 1985
Awangdanjie, Male, Tibetan, DOB: January 24, 1984
Awanggeidun, Male, Tibetan, DOB: August 22, 1981

Chinese:

Huang Chungui, Male, Han, DOB: September 15, 1986
Yuan Fudong, Male, Han, DOB: May 5, 1985
Zhou Peng, Male, Tujia, DOB: August 17, 1984
Yan Dongdong, Male, Han, DOB: November 16, 1984
Zhang Jin, Male, Han, DOB: September 27, 1984
Zhou Lingyu, Male, Han, DOB: July 2, 1987
Ding Chen, Male, Han, DOB: July 24, 1988
Xu Ying, Male, Han, DOBL March 18, 1985

Women:

Jiji, Female, Tibetan, DOB: January 8, 1969
Cirenwangmu, Female, Tibetan, DOB: March 15, 1985
Su Zixia, Female, Han, DOB: November 18, 1984

#Mountaineering








China/Tibet's most accomplished Himalaya mountaineers. Some are found in the torch team, some are not - including former leader Sam Drug and Tibetan top climber Cering Dorje (click to enlarge).
Flip side of the postcard signed by the climbers (click to enlarge).
Postcard sent to ExWeb after the Chinese/Tibetan climbing team's "final 8000er" in Pakistan last year. The climbers however only did Broad Peak's foresummit so the number war 13, not 14. (Click to enlarge).
Image of the surprising leader of the 2008 Everest Olympic torch team Wang Yongfeng; a representative of the Chinese Mountaineering Association in Beijing. Image of Wang courtesy of the Olympic website.