Four veteran Sherpa climbers left Monday for Mount Everest on an expedition to summit the world’s highest mountain within five days from the Nepali direction, aiming to set a record for its shortest winter climb in almost 30 years, hiking officials stated.
If successful, the group headed by 34-year-old Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, who has climbed Everest 8 times, will be the first to ascent the 8,848-metre peak in 27 years during winter, when cold and shorter sunlight hours make climbing troublesome.
Temperatures in the death region of Everest, so-called due to thin air above its South Col, can fall as low as to -40 degrees C (-40°F) in winter, making climbing tougher and risky than the popular spring season, say hiking delegates.
The last winter climb of the mountain dates to 1993, and many winter expeditions since have failed to reach the peak, said Mira Acharya, a delegate of Nepal’s tourism division.
Climbers often spend several weeks on Everest acclimatizing and preparing for summit bids; however, compressing that into five days is very challenging and dangerous, said Shanta Bir Lama, the head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
2019 was Everest’s deadliest since 2015, with 11 climbers, most of them Indian, dying, nine on the Nepali direction, and two on the Tibetan side.
Since Everest was first expedited by New Zealand beekeeper Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953, about 5,000 people have reached the peak; however, over 300 people have died on its slopes.
Two groups from Germany and Spain are now on Everest battling cold climate, hiking officers stated.