Kuwait flag on Ama Dablam to be investigated

A Kuwati expedition drapes a huge flag (circled) from the summit of Mt Ama Dablam (6,812m) as seen from Khumjung on Tuesday. Photo: Manjushree Thapa

A row has broken out in Nepal after a Kuwaiti expedition to Mt Aba Dablam (6,812m) unfurled a flag of record-breaking size from the summit this week, with the Nepal government saying it is investigating the matter.

The flag could be seen from as far away as Khumjung, 3,000m below and 12km away from the mountain. Initially it was thought to be a similar-looking flag of Italy since an expeiditon from that country was also climbing the mountain.

It later turned out that the Kuwaitis were trying to break a record by unfurling the biggest ever flag of their country on the mountain, and did not make a secret of it. The Facebook post of Elite Himalayan Adventures mentions a group with Italians in it, and another Kuwait group that it was helping with the climbs.


The post with time stamp 29 October read: ‘Team B (Kuwait team) who are planning to raise the longest Kuwait flag from the summit of Ama Dablam, have all safely reached at Lukla and trekked to Phakding. They will be spending their night tonight their at a local lodge and will be making their way to Namche Bazaar tomorrow.’

Film-maker and mountaineer Elia Saikaly who was also on the mountain wrote on Instagram after climbing the peak: ‘World’s largest flag (150kg – 100m x 30m) was successfully hung from 6812m above sea level.’ 

Three days earlier, he had posted that he had noticed the Kuwaitis at Camp 2 carrying the 100m by 30m flag weighing 150kg in 6 pieces of 25kg each to be unfurled from the summit: ‘It’s preposterous. But… it’s happening.’

Undersecretary at the Department of Tourism Mountaineering Monitoring Section Mira Acharya told Nepali Times: “We are investigating the matter. They did not have permission to take such a big flag. If it looks like they have broken the rules, we will take action.”

Nepali novelist Manjushree Thapa was in Khumjung on Tuesday 13 November when she noticed the flag on the summit in the afternoon, and took a photograph with her mobile. The picture was tweeted by Nepali Times, which wrongly presumed that it was a red-white-green Italian flag. It corrected the post later saying it was actually a red-white-green-black Kuwaiti flag.

Nepali mountaineer Nims Purja who catapulted to fame last month after shattering world records by climbing the world’s 14 highest mountains in 6 months appears to have been involved in the Kuwaiti flag project.

Saikaly reveals in his Instagram post from 11 November:  ‘If there is one guy who can pull it off it’s @nimsdai and he’s currently leading the efforts, masterminding the strategy, implementing the plan and getting ready to not only guide his two commercial teams to the summit, but in parallel, make this absolutely crazy idea work.’

Supporters of Purja appeared to be shocked and reacted with dismay in social media that he would do such a thing. There has been no reaction yet from Purja who is on the mountain to also take drone videos of himself climbing.

There was heated condemnation on the Nepali Times Facebook page about the flag unfurling: ‘Whichever country it was...who is gonna bring that 25kg x 6 trash down??’ asked  Pan Chy.

Lakpa Rita Sherpa tweeted: ‘Yes definitely that team need to remove the flag and take an action to the local company who organized the trip as well as that team should be ban to Nepal.’

‘I am against peoples spreading symbols of their ego everywhere in Nature for a brief and meaningless self-glorification, spoiling a beautiful landscape view for hundred of peoples, let alone hurting the sensitivity of locals who attach spiritual value to pure snowy mountains,’ added Etienne Loyon.

In a blog post titled ‘Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. Defacing Ama Dablam’ mountaineering chronicler Alan Arnette wrote: ‘I’m fully and completely against any kind of defacing nature from a local trail to the summit of pristine mountains. While it is suggested the banner will be removed, there is no statement of by who or when but that is beside the point. The damage is done. The only legacy this stunt will have is to inspire others to do far more stupid stunts. All involved are neither heroes nor proper custodians of nature. Just because it can be done, doesn’t mean it should.’.

The post was greeted with almost universal condemnation in the feedback section, calling the climbers ‘idiots’ and using even stronger words.

The agency handling the logistics does say that the unfurling of the flag was temporary, but does not clarify if it would be brought down or if it had permission to do so


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