Remembering the Brave, the International Mountaineering Memorial Park, Kakani

On November 11, 2012, the International Mountaineers’ Memorial Park (IIMP) at Kakani of Nuwakot District was graced with yet iconic monument, that in honor of the celebrated South Korean mountaineer, Park Young Seok, who was the first to climb all of the world’s 14eight-thousnaders, the seven summits, and to reach both the poles. He went missing on October 23, 2011, while trying to climb Annapurna via a new route. The memorial park also has memorial monuments to Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, the first two people to conquer the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, sixty years ago (May 29, 1953), as also that of Phu Dorje Sherpa. The last mentioned was the 23rd person to summit Mount Everest, and there are some who believe that he was actually the first Nepali climber to conquer Everest, since Tenzing Sherpa was said to have been born elsewhere. Anyway, Phu Dorje Sherpa was from Khumjung in Solukhumbu, and he had an untimely demise in an icefall on Mount Everest on October, 18, 1969. Tenzing Sherpa and Edmund Hillary’s monuments were unveiled on May 29, 2011, during the 58th anniversary celebrations of the conquest of Everest.

It is to honor and memorialize such heroes as mentioned above that the International Mountaineering Memorial Park was built in Kakani by the Nepal Mountaineering Association. The foundation laying ceremony of the memorial park, located on 144 ropanis of land, was held on May 28, 1998, to coincide with the Visit Nepal Year 1998 campaign. The site of the memorial park, Kakani, is in itself a scenic hill station that is just 29 km northwest from Kathmandu. It is a popular destination for day hikes and located as it is at a height of 2030 m, it offers some great views all around, including views of Annapurna (8091 m), Manaslu (8163 m), Himalchuli (7893 m), Langtang (7246 m), Gauri Shanker (7143 m), etc. There is another memorial park near to IIMP; this is the Thai Memorial Park built to commemorate the 113 victims of the 1992 Thai Airlines crash near the Gosainkunda cliff.

The International Mountaineers’ Memorial Park is still undergoing construction. Its master plan includes memorial monuments, a recreation center, a conference hall, a helipad, picnic spots, and so on. Specific guidelines have been set up for construction of memorial monuments, according to which, an area of 20 ft by 20 ft will be allocated for each monument, inside which the monument itself will cover an area of 4 ft by 4 ft. Additionally, monuments cannot be higher than 11 ft (including the base platform). Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) plans to construct the monuments of the first three Nepali climbers to conquer Everest as well as monuments of other summiteers and first summiteers of the other 8000 m peaks of Nepal. For those wishing to construct monuments at the park in memory of climbers who have summitted 8000 m peaks at their own expense, in or outside Nepal, can avail of NMA’s assistance for an additional 25% administrative charge on the quoted amount.

The memorial park also has an artificial 15 m high climbing wall built with financial assistance from the French embassy. Its construction was finished on January 28, 2006, and the Nepal Mountaineering Association has plans to develop it into an international standard artificial climbing wall in the future. No doubt, the memorial park is destined to be a favorite picnic site for many. In this regard, amenities like clean public toilets and adequate parking space are added benefits. Picnic charges are also pretty economical at Rs. 300 per group, with parking charges being just Rs. 50 for four wheelers and Rs. 10 for motorcycles. All said and done, the International Mountaineers’ Memorial Park promises to be a feather in the cap of Nepal tourism and a beacon for mountain climbers from around the world.

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