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Sherpas challenge Everest record

THREE Sherpa brothers have climbed Mount Everest 16 times between them. The eldest raced up the world's highest mountain in eight hours and 10 minutes, the record for the fastest ascent.

Now the brothers want to scale Everest together, and they aim to break the record for time spent at the summit, known as "the death zone," by staying at the 8,850-meter peak for 24 hours.

Most climbers linger there for only a few minutes, just long enough to take a photograph from the top of the world.

"It is going to be difficult but I know we can do it," said Pemba Dorje, 31, the oldest brother. "I feel safer on the mountain trail than on the city streets."

Dorje and his brothers, Nima Gyalzen, 23, and Phurba Tenzing, 20, start on their trip tomorrow but will guide foreign climbers and share their permit to cut down on the hefty expenses, which can run as high as US$70,000 per team. They hope to reach the summit by mid-May.

The brothers have seen many climbers get sick at the summit, and in 2007 Dorje saw a Japanese man die just minutes after reaching the top.

The extreme cold weather, low air pressure, brain-starving low level of oxygen, high winds and blizzard conditions will hardly allow the brothers to sleep.

Babu Chhiri, a veteran mountaineer who died in 2001 during an expedition, spent 21 hours at the summit in 1999 - the current record - and later said he was afraid if he slept he would not wake up.


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