Challenge8000 Team sets for Everest

Monday, February 1, 2010, 16:36

On the 24th September 2009, 7.10am Nepali time, the Challenge8000 Team stood on the summit of Cho Oyu, the 6th highest mountain in the world with the Maltese flag flapping in the climbers’ hands at an elevation of 8201m and a temperature of -29 degrees Celcius. The Maltese climbing team had set off to the Himalayas 5 weeks earlier and managed to achieve their objective 10 days ahead of schedule. The expedition was a complete success with all three Maltese climbers (Gregory Attard, Robert Gatt and Marco Cremona) managing to reach the summit and get down from the mountain without suffering any injuries. It is noteworthy to mention that Gregory Attard, a medical doctor by profession, saved the life of a climber who contracted Altitude Sickness while at base camp by mobilising and co-ordinating a rescue expedition to get the climber down the mountain, across the Tibet-Nepal border and all the way to a hospital in Kathmandu in a record 2 days – thus saving the climber’s life.   The Challenge8000 Cho Oyu expedition was expertly led by Victor Saunders, a world-class mountaineer, who has climbed Everest 4 times in the last 5 years. 

Maltese climbers (in yellow) Gregory Attard, Robert Gatt and Marco Cremona

Maltese climbers (in yellow) Gregory Attard, Robert Gatt and Marco Cremona

Cho Oyu was the first of two 8000m high summits which the Challenge8000 Team set out to conquer. On the 27th March 2010 the Challenge8000 team will set off to the Himalayas once again – this time to set foot on the highest mountain on earth – Mt. Everest.

The 61-day expedition will start on the 28th March; after final preparations in Kathmandu the team will take a domestic flight to Lukla – an airfield constructed on the slope of a mountain – from where the trek to Everest base camp starts. The Challenge8000 team will do an acclamatisation climb on a little known peak – the 6150m high Nirekha peak – before reaching Everest base camp from where the climb up Everest truly begins. The Challenge8000 team hope to take the Maltese flag to the 8850m high summit on/around the 14th May (Day 49 of the expedition) and be back in Malta during the first week of June.

The Challenge 8000 team will be guided by Victor Saunders and assisted by a team of professional sherpas. A contingent of 5 Maltese trekkers (Annemarie Dalmas, Alec Sultana, Martin Farrugia, Natal Falzon and David Bonnici) will be accompanying the Challenge8000 team to the Himalayas until Everest Base Camp.

As part of their training and fund-raising activities the Challenge8000 team will be holding the following events:

-          On the 5 – 7 February, C8000 team members Gregory Attard and Marco Cremona will traverse Mt. Etna over 2 days, a trek that normally takes 3-4 days in better weather

-          This will be followed by a trek-around-Malta-in-24-hours event on the 19 – 21 February. The public will be asked to accompany the Challenge8000 team by walking for part of the route. On Saturday 20 February the Challenge8000 team will be holding a number of activities for the family at various locations around Malta, during the trek. Details to be announced at a later stage.

The Challenge8000 Team is supported by Duracell and Bank of Valletta.

Everest Factfile

Height 8,850 metres

Named after Colonel Sir George Everest, British Surveyor General of India, by his successor. It already had two perfectly good names: Sagarmatha in Nepal (meaning Goddess of the Sky) and Chomolungma in Tibet (meaning Mother Goddess of the universe).

First attempt to climb it was made in 1924 by Britons George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, who perished on the mountain. The first successful ascent was in 1953 by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

Disaster struck in 1996 when 19 people died trying to reach the summit, the worst year for fatalities, which total over 250 so far

Bottled oxygen is used by most expeditions above 8,000 metres – the ‘Death Zone’. Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler made the first oxygen-free ascent in 1978.

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