Kathmandu, Jan 27 : Three Spanish mountaineers and two Germans are embarking on a daring mission to climb Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, in winter - a feat that has not been done since 1993.
Alex Txikon, Oscar Cardo, Jonatan GarcÃa headed to Everest Base Camp on Sunday, ready to start their climb next week, the director of Outware Treks & Expeditions, Pemba Sherpa, told Efe news.
"The team of Sherpa, also known as Icefall doctor, has opened the route up to Camp I (6,000 m) that passes through the Khumbu Icefall," he said.
The trio has already climbed Mt Ama Dablam (6,812 m) as part of acclimatization training.
The Khumbu Icefall, located between Everest Base Camp and Camp I, is the most treacherous section of the route, where giant slabs of ice loom and sometimes break off.
"As the Spanish have completed their acclimatization on Mt Ama Dablam, they will not begin their climb as soon as they reach the Everest Base Camp," said Sherpa. "They will not use supplemental oxygen." It will be the trio's third attempt at the challenge after failed attempts in 2016 and 2017.
In 2017, the climbers reached Camp IV (8,000 m), but had to return due to the weather.
"Their luck this year, obviously, will depend on the weather. Until today (Sunday), whether in the Everest region is good," said Sherpa.
He said that in winter the days are shorter and the nights longer and cold, making climbing harder.
Everest witnesses some of the strongest winds at this time of the year, with temperatures regularly reaching -36 degrees Celsius. It can drop as low as -60 C.
Winter climbing permits last until the end of February.
Besides the Spanish trio, German climbers Jost Kobusch and Hug Daniel are also tackling the slopes of Everest, Rabin Neupane, the director of Satori Adventures, told Efe.
The pair has moved down to Base Camp at 5,380 m after reaching Camp II (6,400 m) as part of their acclimatization, Neupane said.
The Germans are not using climbing aids, such as ropes and ladders, and are also without supplemental oxygen.
"They have not announced the date to climb, but are waiting the right time that's good weather window," said Neupane.
The last winter ascent, according to Nepal's Tourism Department records, was completed by Japan's Shinsuke Ezuka on December 20, 1993.
Krzysztof Wielicki of Poland first climbed Everest in the dead of winter on February 17, 1980.
The peak sees the highest number of climbers during the spring.
-- The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text