- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

KATMANDU, NEPAL (AP) - Three Sherpa brothers hoping to set a new record by spending 24 hours at the top of the world set out Sunday for the summit of Mount Everest.

The trio _ Pemba Dorje, 31; Nima Gyalzen, 23; and Phurba Tenzing, 20 _ boarded a plane in Katmandu, Nepal’s capital, and flew to a small airport on the foothills of Everest. They were expected to trek to the base camp with their team, climbing gear and supplies in the next few days.

The brothers plan to reach the 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) summit in May and spend 24 hours at the top, known as “the death zone” because of the extreme weather. Most climbers linger there for only a few minutes, just long enough to take a photograph.

Several friends and supporters of the brothers gathered at the airport to wish them success.

“It is going to be difficult, but we are confident because all of us have reached the Everest summit many times and we are all experienced climbers on the mountain,” Dorje told reporters at the airport.

At the summit, they will face extreme cold weather, low air pressure, brain-starving low levels of oxygen, high winds and blizzard conditions.

The last record was set by Babu Chhiri, who spent 21 hours at the summit in 1999. A veteran mountaineer, he died in 2001 during an expedition

The brothers said they planned to pray, take notes of the changing temperatures and the effect they have on human bodies.

Dorje holds the record for the fastest climb of the world’s highest mountain, sprinting from a base camp to the summit in just eight hours 10 minutes.

Sherpa tribesmen were mostly yak herders and traders living in the Himalayas until Nepal opened its borders to tourism in 1950. Their stamina and knowledge of the mountains makes them expert guides and porters.

They typically have no family name and are called after the days of the week they are born.

On the Net:

The brothers’ expedition company Web site: https://www.worldsummitexp.com

News on Mount Everest: https://www.mounteverest.net

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