Two Sikkim girls first in NE to climb Mt Everest

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Rangpo, June 06 (UNI) The triumphant Everest-scaling team of the Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute (SGMI) was accorded a warm welcome at Rangpo, the entry point to Sikkim, by the state Tourism department, adventure tourism stakeholders, family members and local people.

The SGMI team, led by its principal expedition leader G T Bhutia, arrived here yesterday from Nepal where they were gifted offerings of khadas (traditional silk scarves).

The Sikkim tourism department, led by Joint Secretary V R Subba, members of Sikkim Association of Adventure Tour Operators, Sikkim Mountaineering Association and Sikkim Amateur Mountaineering Association had been camping at Rangpo to welcome the team.

For the SGMI team, it was a reunion with their family members after a gap of four months.

In the first ever independent Everest expedition of SGMI, seven of its members, including two women, had successfully scaled the world's highest peak on May 22 through Nepal route.

The SGMI Everesters included D D Bhutia, Kunzang Bhutia, Phul Maya Tamang, Yangde Shrepa, Nima Wangchuk Sherpa, Yaduram Sharma and N Suraj Singh.

Three more persons from the police departments of Uttaranchal, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir, were the members of the expedition team, SGMI principal and team leader G T Bhutia told mediapersons here.

Mr Bhutia had stayed back at the base camp charting out the success story for the SGMI, 43 years after it had last conquered the Everest.

He said the success was due to determination and long preparation.

''Its a success not only for SGMI but also Sikkim,'' he said.

New records had also been created by this SGMI team.

With this ascent, both Phul Maya Tamang (37) and Yangde Sherpa (31) became the first two women from the entire Northeast region to climb Mt Everest.

Ms Tamang had earlier made an unsuccessful bid in 2003.

''The feeling that we climbed the world's highest peak has not really quite sunk in but we must say that with this feat we are now aware that even women can achieve anything if they have the determination. We stayed for ten minutes on the top of the world and the view was mesmerizing. We also prayed at the top,'' Ms Sherpa said.

D D Bhutia was the first to scale the peak at 0420 hours followed by Kunzang Bhutia.

Nima Wangchuk Sherpa became the oldest person in India to climb the Everest at an age of 59 years.

''My life-long ambition has been fulfilled,'' he said.

Still robust, Mr Sherpa said this was also his last fling with Mt Everest.

While SGMI members had been part of Everest history in the past, this was the first independent expedition.

The success haul of seven Everesters this time prompted the principal to say that good fortune was with them.

''Even if one of us had climbed Everest, it would have been history. But seven, it was incredible. It was also good fortune that there were no untoward incidents during the climb,'' Mr Bhutia said.

The Sikkim tourism department organised a dinner today in honour of the SGMI team and will be felicitating them soon.

''You all have shown the path to the future generations of Sikkim as a living example. All of us must follow this example. We all are swollen with pride and Sikkim is indebted to you all,'' state tourism joint secretary V R Subba told the team at Rangpo.

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