Early in the morning of 26th May this year, a small expedition reached the summit of Mount Everest and unfurled two special flags: one bearing the rainbow of the International Co-operative Alliance, the other the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives logo.

The expedition was organized by the Nepal Information and Communication Central Co-operative Union (NICCU), and was led by their general secretary, Shivakumar Dangi, to celebrate the UN’s declaration of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. The 10 expedition members were presented with the ICA flag and IYC logo by the Nepalese Tourism Minister Hon’ble Lokendra Bist Magar and the chair of the National Co-operative Federation, Keshav Badal, in a special ceremony at the end of March.

“My colleagues and I decided to plan the Mount Everest expedition thinking it would be a wonderful and adventurous journey,” said Dangi. “We made a plan to start the journey from Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. Then we started to collect money and organize logistics for the expedition and started mountaineering training.” Eight of the expedition members made it to the peak, 8,448 meters high. “I had a strong desire to reach the destination,” said Dangi. “And I was full of courage and inspiration from all cooperators. These made me so strong that I could cross the terrible steep and rocky ice mountain.”

“My team and I felt responsible for contributing to the whole cooperative movement. We felt that we were becoming representatives of 100 million cooperative members around the world,” he said.

Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, congratulated the intrepid expedition members. “This is an extraordinary and exciting way to celebrate the International Year of Co-operatives,” she wrote on her blog. “To see the co-op flag literally ‘on top of the world’ should inspire us all.”