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78-Year-Old Artist's Paintings to Grace Everest's Summit

Will a 9-year-old climb Mt. Everest? Not if Nepal and Tibet can help it. (Image credit: NASA.)

A 78-year-old artist is planning to display three small panels from his large painting on Mount Everest's summit.

The New York City artist and political cartoonist Ranan Lurie's "Uniting Painting" was previously on display at the United Nations. If all goes as planned, three acrylic-on-canvas panels from the 600-foot-long (183 meters) painting will begin the dangerous and expensive expedition to Everest's summit in March. Lurie won't be climbing the mountain with his painting, though, as Everest's new age restrictions make it illegal for those over 60 to scale the mountain.

Lurie told the Associated Press that the painting offers viewers a "common denominator," and that displaying the pieces on top of Everest will show the scope of the work's message.

"Uniting Painting" consists of dozens of panels, each with similar shapes that flow from one panel to the next. The pieces that will grace Mount Everest are largely blue and white to reflect the colors of clouds, sky and snow found at their destination, Lurie told the Associated Press.

Ages 16 to 60 only

Lurie won't carry the panels himself; that chore falls to professional Nepalese climbers. The total size of the three panels is about 2 feet (6.5 m) by 3 feet (10 m).

While the new age rules bar Lurie from making the climb himself, others over 60 have scaled the mountain in the past. In 2009, Nepali climber Min Bahadur Sherchan became the oldest summiter, reaching the top at the age of 76.

The new age laws could also keep a 9-year-old boy from becoming the youngest person to summit Everest . Climbers must be at least 16 years old to climb the Nepali side.

Despite the age laws, Tseten Sherpa, a third-grader, is set to attempt to scale the 29,029-foot (8,848-meter) Mount Everest next summer. The world record for the youngest climber was set this year by a 13-year-old American schoolboy named Jordan Romero.

Costly climb

Young or old, if a mountaineer wants to buy a permit only for themselves to hike the Nepalese side of Everest, the price is $25,000. Money collected by the Nepalese government for the permit goes toward ensuring that Mount Everest is kept pristine, as it is considered holy by the local villagers.

That price includes only the cost of admission to the mountain guided tour and accommodations are extra.

The total price to climb Everest can easily add up to over $200,000, according to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, once transportation, mountaineering guides, oxygen bottles, tents and communication devices are included.

Reach OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel at bisrael@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @btisrael.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.