The height of rule-breaking: Everest climber Daniel Hughes in trouble for 'illegal' video interview from peak


Asia Correspondent

A British climber who delivered a live video interview from the top of Mount Everest has found himself in trouble with the Nepalese authorities who have branded the broadcast illegal.

In the latest controversy involving the world's highest mountain as officials prepare to mark the 60th anniversary of its first confirmed ascent, mountaineer Daniel Hughes has been told that he did not have permission for his smartphone interview with the BBC.

"This is the world's first live video call - never been done before - from the rooftop of the world," said the climber, who was raising money for Comic Relief, while on the peak of the 8,848-metre mountain on Sunday morning.

Mobile phone coverage has existed on the mountain for several years and various climbers have made calls from the summit. However, Purnachandra Bhattarai, joint secretary of Nepal's tourism ministry, said Mr Hughes had broken the law by not seeking permission from the government for his broadcast.

"Even the tourism ministry has to seek permission from the communication ministry to film, broadcast or conduct media related events on Everest," he told the AFP.

He said the trekking agency hired by Mr Hughes was now under investigation as a result of what had happened. He did not give further details.

Mr Hughes was among a total of 146 people who reached the summit of Everest during a "fair weather" window. Records were claimed by the first women from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Indian sisters as the first twins, and a British climber completing the mountain for the eleventh time.

While the mountain has become a popular location for record breakers, there is increasing concern about the number of people attempting the summit - especially the number of co-called "commercial climbers" who pay for a climbing team to get them to the top.

Last year, more than 250 climbers reached the summit in a 48-hour stretch of good weather despite warnings of potentially deadly bottlenecks in the "death zone" above 8,000 metres.

Earlier this years, the mountain, first successfully climbed in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, was the scene of a high-altitude brawl between European climbers and Nepalese Sherpas over an alleged breach in climbing etiquette.

"This summit season has already been marked by controversy and we don't want it to happen again," said Mr Bhattarai.

* Britain's most successful mountaineer has become the first person to scale the three peaks of Mount Everest's Western Cwm in one climb. Kenton Cool, 39, and his climbing partner Sherpa Dorje Gylgen returned to Everest base camp this morning after reaching the summits of Nuptse, Everest and Lhotse in a single trip.

Cool said after completing the unprecedented Three Peaks Challenge: "It has always been a dream of mine to attempt these three mountains. "I'm totally 100% spent, but it's an absolutely fantastic feeling to have achieved this - a dream come true," said Cool, from Gloucestershire

At 7,861m (25,791ft), Nuptse is the world's 20th highest peak, at 8,848m (29,029ft) Everest is the highest, and Lhotse is the fourth highest at 8,516m (27,940ft).

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