Double whammy for Pune mountaineers

Pune, May 17 (IANS) A team of mountaineers from Pune conquered the world’s tallest peak Mt. Everest and Mt. Lhotse, the world’s fourth highest, early Friday, an official said here.

This is billed as the first Indian civilian expedition to scale two peaks above 8,000 metres simultaneously, said Niranjan Palsule, spokesperson for Giripremi Mountaineering Club.

Of the world’s 14 tallest peaks, Mt. Everest stands tallest at 8,848 metres. Mt. Lhotse is 8,516 metres high and ranks fourth.

The Pune team’s successful attempt came when the world is celebrating the diamond jubilee of the first human conquest of Mt. Everest.

The twin conquest, led by Umesh Zirpe, was made around 8 a.m. Friday — after a 70-day-long expedition, Palsule said.

Zirpe’s team comprised of climbers Ganesh More, Anand Mali, Bhushan Harshe, Ashish Mane. They reached the Everest Base Camp April 12.

One team consisting Mali, More and Harshe started the climb for Mt. Everest Thursday morning from South Col, braving strong winds. After climbing up the challenging Hillary Steps, the team finally stepped on to the Mt. Everest summit at 8 a.m.

Mane attempted Mt. Lhotse alone and after braving heavy winds and adverse conditions managed to conquer it around 7.20 a.m. Thursday.

Unfortunately, the team leader Zirpe had to sacrifice his opportunity to scale the world’s highest peak owing to certain contingencies.

On Thursday (May 16), Zirpe decided to return from South Col and abandon his summit attempt in order to save oxygen for three other co-climbers.

“He wanted to ensure that his team had sufficient oxygen bottles for their delayed stay at South Col, and the summit attempt that followed. It was a brave decision and a noble sacrifice made by Zirpe for the success of the expedition which will set an example of true team spirit and leadership,” Palsule said.

Incidentally, last year, eight out of a 13-member team of Giripremi scaled the Mt. Everest — becoming the second mountaineering team from Maharashtra since 1998 to conquer the world’s highest peak. This year, another team from the same club repeated the feat.

Presently, the Mt. Everest and Mt. Lhotse summitting teams are climbing down to Camp 3, braving dehydration, over-exertion and bad weather conditions.

Sir Edmund P. Hillary from New Zealand and Nepali Sherpa Tenzing Norgay from stepped onto the world’s highest peak at 11.30 a.m. on May 29, 1953.

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