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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Wedding on top of Mount Everest
Mountaineers Moni Mulepati, right, and Pem Dorjee Sherpa
Pem Dorjee and Moni Mulepati kept their plans secret
A Nepalese couple have exchanged wedding vows on top of Mount Everest, the first people ever to marry there.

They briefly took off their oxygen masks and put on plastic garlands, while the groom symbolically applied red powder on the bride's forehead.

Moni Mule Pati and Pem Dorjee Sherpa were part of the Rotary Centennial Everest Expedition earlier this week.

They had kept the plan secret as there was no guarantee they would reach the top of the world's highest peak.

Arriving back in Kathmandu, the bride said it would not have been possible to meet all the religious requirements, so they did what they could with what was available.

People are people so there's no problem about caste
Pem Dorjee

The couple stayed on the peak for a mere 10 minutes which gave enough time for the ceremony and for friends to take photos.

Other climbers were "very surprised, they are really shocked" Ms Mulepati told the BBC's Newshour programme.

They plan to hold a more formal ceremony soon.

Interracial marriage

Mr Dorjee said other couples had wanted to do the same in the past, but none had managed because they could not get up on top of the peak together.

Fearing the same possibility, they had kept their own plan secret.

The surprised families have welcomed the marriage, which is also unusual because it cuts across Nepal's deep-rooted caste and ethnic divisions.

"If some people are loving each other they have to get married," Pem Dorjee told the BBC. "That's why we want to give all Nepali people [the message] that people are people so there's no problem about caste."

One Nepalese paper joked that this was a marriage which, if not made in heaven, was solemnised closest to it.

Record

It has been a busy week of mountaineering at Mount Everest at the start of the popular spring climbing season.

On Monday, 45 climbers scaled the 8,850-metre (29,035-feet) peak - including Pem Dorjee and Moni Mulepati.

Nepalese Appa Sherpa broke his own world record by climbing it for the 15th time while two Iranian climbers became the first Muslim women on top of the peak.

A helicopter also crashed at the Everest base camp but there were no major injuries.


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Listen to the couple speak about their wedding




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