6 Indian climbers make first Everest summit of season
Six Indian climbers reached the top of Mount Everest today, the first group to summit the world's highest peak this season.
The team reached the peak from the northern Tibet side of the mountain on Saturday morning, with the first climber summiting at 8:20 am (0020 GMT) and the rest of the group following shortly after.
"Six members from our team reached the summit this morning, the first of the season," confirmed Satish Kumar from Transcend Adventures, the operator organising the climb.
Some members of the team are from low income backgrounds and had been sponsored by the state government of Andra Pradesh, in southeastern India.
The first member of the group to reach the peak was Nagaraju Sundarana whose parents are day labourers, followed by son of a fisherman, Satya Rao, according to Transcend Adventures' facebook page.
"We have 23 in our team and 19 are sponsored by the government. They are between 19-29 years old from low income families. They have been training for one and a half years," team leader Shekhar Babu told AFP.
The busy spring climbing season on Everest runs from late April to May when a narrow window of good weather opens allowing climbers to reach the top of the world.
But so far high winds, fresh snowfall and unusually cold temperatures have forced most teams to delay their summit attempts.
Nearly 750 climbers are waiting to ascend the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) peak from the Nepal side, and another 300 on the Tibet side.
On the busier south side, a team of highly skilled rope fixers are still waiting for a period of good weather to lay the ropes to the summit.
A group of Sherpa climbers fixed ropes to the peak on the north side on Thursday, paving the way for the first summit of the season.
The season has already been hit by two deaths -- experienced Swiss climber Ueli Steck who died late April while on an acclimatisation climb and 85-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan who died while attempting to reclaim his title as the world's oldest person to summit Everest.
Last year five people lost their lives on the world's highest peak, while 443 successfully summited from the Nepal side and another 197 made it to the top from the north side in Tibet.