SGMI begins its final preparations for Everest expedition

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Gangtok, Nov 12 (UNI) Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute (SGMI), the premier mountaineering institute of the region, is in its final preparation mode for a maiden full-fledged expedition to Mt Everest.

The final selection-cum-training will be flagged off on November 15 and will be held at Yumthang in North Sikkim, said G.T.Bhutia, principal, SGMI. The expedition has been planned during the spring season of 2008, he said.

Established in 1960, SGMI boasts of five Everesters in its rich legacy. Sonam Gyatso, after whom the institute was named, Sonam Wangyell and SCS Rawat had ascended the 8,848 m summit in 1965 as a part of the first Indian expedition. Phu Dorjee, the first Indian to climb Everest without oxygen in 1984 also belongs to SGMI.

Double Everester Nadre Sherpa (1996 and 2003) was another proud product of SGMI.

Boasting these personalities who have been part of the expeditions of other oraganizations, SGMI is focused for an independent Everest expedition this time.

SGMI has opted for the difficult North Col route from the Tibetan side for the 2008 Spring Everest Expedition in March-April. The northeast ridge route begins from the north side of Everest in Tibet.

Booking and other formalities have been done at Lhasa with Chinese Mountaineering Association, said the SGMI principal.

Mr Bhutia, who will be leading the Everest expedition, said there will be 15 team members and five support-crew members. Four police personnel - two from Jammu and Kashmir and one each from Gujarat and Uttaranchal-will be the only non-SGMI members in the expedition.

P M Tamang who had earlier attempted to scale Mt Everest in 2003 and Yankdi Sherpa would be the two women members in the expedition.

UNI

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