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Utah Resident Takes Climate Change Message to the Top of the World During Record 19th Everest Ascent

Apa Sherpa Unveils Banner on Summit Urging Action on Climate Change

Washington, DC, May 21, 2009 – Utah Resident Apa Sherpa unveiled a banner on the summit of Mount Everest today telling the world to take urgent action on climate change and save his native Himalayas. The banner containing the WWF message – "Stop Climate Change, Let the Himalayas Live!" was unveiled as he summited Everest for a record 19th time.

Sherpa is all too familiar with the impacts of climate change on his native Nepal, having witnessed firsthand the changing landscape of the Himalayas during his decades of mountaineering experience. In addition, he has been a victim of its disastrous consequences – a glacial lake burst its banks and washed away half his property and land in 1985.

These Glacial Lake Outburst Floods are one of the most visible impacts of climate change and one that Sherpa hopes to highlight through the Eco-Everest Expedition. It is led by two-time Everest Summiteer Dawa Steven Sherpa, a passionate advocate of climate change issues who has also seen the impact of climate change on the Himalayas. Six Americans are on the team.

At the summit, Apa also installed a sacred vase personally blessed by the Venerable Rinpoche of Tengboche (Buddhist spiritual leader), containing 400 sacred ingredients intended to restore the sanctity of the Himalayan sacred valleys against the negative impacts of rapid environmental changes.

“Apa and Dawa have achieved greatness while carrying the most important message of our time to the top of the world,” said Jon Miceler, Director of WWF’s Eastern Himalayas Program. “Now it’s up to the rest of us to save the Himalayas and all of Earth’s ecosystems by pushing for a strong international agreement to tackle climate change.”

The event is a part of the “Climate for Life” campaign (http://climate4life.org/)

being led by WWF Nepal to raise awareness of Climate Change impacts in the Himalayas. There will be multiple events throughout 2009 highlighting the issues at stake culminating into a concerted effort at the global treaty negotiations in Copenhagen in December.

"The well being of Himalayas is crucial for economic development of Nepal," said Mr. Ganesh Sah, Nepal's Minister for Environment, Science and Technology.  "It's only by coming together that we can deliver this message emphatically to the world."

“We congratulate Apa, Dawa and the entire Eco-Everest Expedition, who achieved their mission despite the tragic loss of a team member, Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa, in an avalanche on May 6,” Miceler said.

Note: Photos and interviews with the team are available by contacting Lee Poston at 202-299-6442 or lee.poston@wwfus.org A photo of Apa at the summit will be offered as soon as it is available.