Darjeeling, May 22: Probing through blinding mist, bucking the odds against weather and warding off the limits of fatigue and despair to achieve the “ultimate dream”. There is no better way for the hometown to salute the “son” who first reached the Top of the World 50 years ago.
Following in the footsteps of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Edmund Hillary, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute yesterday etched its name in the annals of history by summiting Mount Everest. This was the first time that a team from the institute made it to the top. But the achievement was special not just because of that.
One of the two summiteers, Kushang Dorjee, an instructor in the institute, became the first Indian to summit Everest five times from all four routes — the North Ridge, Southeast Ridge, Khangshung Face, and the Northeast Face, which is from the Tibet side.
Nadre Sherpa, an instructor at Sikkim’s Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute, was the other summiteer.
The Northeast face, from where the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute expedition was mounted, is the same that Hillary and Tenzing’s predecessor George Leigh Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine chose for the summit bid in 1924.
Tenzing and Hillary had chosen the Southeast ridge.
According to information at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Dorjee and Nadre reached the pinnacle of the Chonglungma, as the Tibetans call the peak, at 12.30 pm yesterday.
When last heard, they had started on their way down to the advance base camp at 21,000 ft.
The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, where Tenzing served as the first director, had sent a 16-member team led by principal Col. Vijay Singh to mark the first ascent of the Everest (8,050-m) on May 29, 1953.
Team Everest was flagged off on March 29 by Nawang Gombu, the first man to climb the peak twice — in 1963 and 1965.
The weather notwithstanding, the team is expected to reach Darjeeling by May 27.
A source at the mountaineering institute said the weather at the mountain, where more than 250 people have perished in the past 50 years, was “very bad”. “This made our maiden climb all the more rewarding for the team members and the many others who prayed for their safety.”
Going by the expedition itinerary, the team was to establish base camp at 17,000 ft, on the East Rongbuk Glacier, an intermediate camp at 19,500 ft and advance base just below the North Col.
The last camp served as a permanent base for launching the assault on the peak.