Indian Army team summits Mt Everest
May 15, 2007 - 4:05:10 PM

Kathmandu, May 15 - Six members of an Indian Army expedition team Tuesday conquered the Mount Everest, world's highest peak, along with six Sherpas, as another Indian Army team was readying to begin its climb later in the night.

'The expedition leader, Lt. Col. Ishwor Singh Thapa, called in the morning with the good news,' said Bikrum Pandey, whose Himalaya Expeditions company in Kathmandu is handling the logistics for the 20-member team.

Capt D.J. Singh, Subedar M. Khandagle, Havildar Tshering Angchok, Havildar Balwant Singh Negi, Havildar Amardev Bhatt and Sepoy Sachin Patil reached the summit at 6 a.m. Nepal time, along with Nepali Sherpas Chhiring Dorjee, Damai Chhiri, Ngwang Passang, Tashi sherpa, Dawa Gyalzen and Tshering Finjo.

'The second Indian Army team is raring to start at 10 p.m. Tuesday night,' Pandey said.

This is the fourth ascent of the world's most charismatic mountain by the army that had first achieved the feat in 2001. The second summit came in 2003 and the third two years later, when the Indian Army women's team also made its first successful assault to the summit.

Thapa, 38, comes from the 4th Maratha Light Infantry.

Several of the team members have trained in high-altitude mountain warfare and had served in India's violence-hit Jammu and Kashmir state.

Thapa himself was posted at the Siachen Glacier, the world's highest and coldest war field, for six months.

Though none of the 14 climbers in the 20-member team had any prior experience of summiting Mt Everest, the team's mascot, Dr Chanchal Kumar Haldar, said he would see to it that there was no high-altitude sickness in his team.

'I have been in the army since 2002,' the Bengali doctor told IANS. 'No one who has undergone my regimen has ever suffered from mountain sickness. In one day, we have had 200 soldiers reach 16,000 ft from 10,000 ft without any illness.'

The Indian Army team left New Delhi on March 28 and reached Lhasa in Tibet by March 31. The original plan was to make the final assault on the summit from May 9 but bad weather delayed the ascent.

Though 17 members of a Chinese team summited Mt Everest last Wednesday as a dress rehearsal for carrying the Olympic torch to the top next year, snowfall and torrential winds since then blocked further attempts.

This season, four people have already died on the Himalayan slopes. A Nepali sherpa was killed on the way to Mt Everest while an Italian and two Spanish climbers died while scaling Mt Dhaulagiri, the seventh highest peak.

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