Ten-member Sikkim team scales Mt Everest

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Gangtok, May 22 (UNI) A ten-member team of the Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute (SGMI), Sikkim, successfully scaled the world's highest peak Mt Everest today, creating history for the premier mountaineering institute and the Himalayan state.

SGMI team member D D Bhutia reached the summit at 0530 hours this morning, followed by his team member Kunzang Gyatso Bhutia ten minutes later, Managing Director of Himalaya Expeditions Bikram Pandey told UNI over phone from Kathmandu.

''Expedition leader and SGMI Principal G T Bhutia spoke to me about the successful ascent through satellite phone from the base camp and said it was highly successful,'' Mr Pandey said.

The Himalaya Expeditions had provided the logistics support and 12 Sherpas to the SGMI team for the expedition which had used the South Col route (Nepal).

Though the SGMI boasts of five Everest-scalers in its rich legacy, this expedition is the first full-fledged independent Mt Everst expedition.

The expedition team also included two women - Phul Maya Tamang and Yangdi Sherpa, three police personnel from various parts of the country and another person from Manipur.

The other two SGMI members in the team were Nima Wangchuk and Yaduram Sharma.

Nepal Mountaineering Association president Ang Tshering Sherpa confirmed to UNI from Kathmandu about the successful ascent by the Sikkimese expedition.

The team had started the ascent from the base camp on the first week of April.

''Golden days are back in Sikkim for mountaineering,'' said a jubilant Barap Namgyal Bhutia, general secretary of Sikkim Amateur Mountaineering Association (SAMA), based in Gangtok, while congratulating the SGMI team.

''It is a huge achievement for Sikkim in mountaineering,'' the SAMA general secretary said.

Prior to this expedition, Sonam Gyatso, after whom the institute is named, Sonam Wangyell and SCS Rawat had ascended the 8,848 metres summit in 1965 as a part of the first Indian expedition.

Phu Dorjee, the first Indian to climb the Everest without an oxygen cylinder in 1984, also belongs to the SGMI.

Two times Everest-scaler Nadre Sherpa (1996 and 2003) is another proud alumni of the SGMI.

With this expedition, the SGMI has got six more Everesters in its proud history.

Earlier, the SGMI had opted to use the difficult North Col route through Tibet but had to change its plan after the Tibetan uprising.

The northeast ridge route begins from the north side of Everest in Tibet.

UNI BG DPM RKM HS1753

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