As one of the first Malaysians and likely one of the
first Tamils (the Dravidian people of southern India and northern Sri
Lanka) atop Everest. N. Monhandas had many reasons to celebrate. His
13-hour trek up the mountain was the culmination of a personal, familial
and even national effort. Monhandas and his climbing partner M Magendran,
along with fiver Sherpa guides, planted the Malaysian flag atop Everest,
celebrated for 10 quick minutes and began the most dangerous part of the
climb, the trek back down.
The corporate sponsored Malaysian climb had been in
the planning stages for 10 years, with intensive training for the last
three. The Everest ’97 project was a part of the government’s “Malaysia
Can!” campaign as a follow-up to the “Malaysia Cergas” campaign launched
in the 1980s.
Prayer is an important part of Malaysian life and
certainly no less so for those who venture into Everest’s “Death Zone.”
Monhandas’ wife Manimegalai does puja (ceremonial prayer) twice weekly
for her husband’s health, safety and longevity. Upon hearing that the
climb might be cancelled she went to Kottamalai Genesha temple and
prayed for her husband’s success. His team summited Everest on May 23’d
Although the Malaysian expedition was criticized for
being inexperienced and under political pressure to summit the Malaysian
team reached the top of Everest without incident. The expedition was
lead by Nor Ramlle Sulaiman and Captain M. S. Kohli, leader of India’s
first summit in 1965. Though they hoped to be the first Southeast Asians
to summit the Malaysian’s were beaten to the summit by a team from
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