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Brothers plan 24 hours atop Everest

February 17, 2009

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kathmandu

Three Nepalese brothers are to try to break a world record by staying on
top of Mount Everest for 24 hours.

Pemba Dorje Sherpa, aged 31, and his younger brothers Nima Gyalzen and
Phurba Tenzing, intend to use their stay on the summit to pray for peace
in Nepal and the world.

They will take with them a 30cm (12-inch) statue of the Buddha to the
peak. And they are vowing to stay there for 24 hours whatever the weather.

Climbing Everest is almost second nature to the brothers, two of whom
met the BBC at their small trekking agency in a back street of Kathmandu
to explain their plans.

Coming from the remote and wild Rolwaling Valley, which lies west of the
Everest region, five out of the family's seven brothers (they also have
four sisters) have climbed the world's highest peak.

Pemba, Nima and Phurba have made 16 ascents between them.

And Pemba is already in the record books having made the summit from
base camp in a still-unbeaten eight hours, 10 minutes in May 2004.

The current record for staying on t op is 20 hours. Now that the
record-holder, Babu Shiri Sherpa, has died, Pemba feels he can make his bid.

"We can't tell how the weather will be," he says. "We'll take all
possible equipment, including ropes. There will be no problem with snow
and wind. We're prepared."

'Record and reputation'

The brothers kindly rigged up their small British-made tent in the
office to show me. Asked how they would find the space to put it up on
the summit, they said they would "make a hole" for it in the snow,
straddling the Nepal-Tibet border on the top.

"We won't sleep. We will pray 24 hours," Pemba says.

He says representatives of Nepal's Hindu, Christian and Muslim faiths
will give them religious artefacts to carry alongside the gold-coloured
Buddha crafted in Patan, near Kathmandu, which they say they will leave
on the top in a glass box.

Surely their venture is dangerous, I wondered.

"Chhaina, chhaina" ("It's not"), mutters Phurba dismissively. "I think
it's right. We hope. We try."

"It's a risk but it's not so dangerous," says Pemba.

Most of the brothers' past ascents have been as climbing guides.

This trip, they say, is for "record and reputation".

Although some clothing companies and Nepalese banks are helping with
sponsorship, there is not the usual huge money involved because only
foreigners require expensive permits.

They will of course have a team of helpers, including cooks, none of
whom will climb above the South Col (7,900 m/26,000 ft).

This announcement coincides with disappointment for another Nepali
mountaineer, Min Bahadur Sherchan.

He climbed Everest last year and was said to be 76 at the time - a year
older than Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura, who reached the top two days

But reports last week said Guinness World Records had recognised Mr
Miura as the oldest as there were not the required documents to prove Mr
Sherchan's record.

Mr Sherchan wants to challenge the Guinness decision.

The Sherpa brothers set off on 1 April and are aiming to reach the
summit during May.

Their publicity material, say the three brothers, will be reporting
every hour on "how the human body reacts to this extreme weather".

It is clearly not a trip for the faint-hearted.
Story from BBC NEWS:
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