Two teams from Pune scale Everest

Mumbai: A dozen mountaineers from Maharashtra today reached the summit of Mount Everest, the world`s highest mountain at 8,848-metres.

The mountaineers from Pune, who were a part of two separate expeditions, summited Everest in batches starting early this morning.

Sagarmatha Giryarohan Sanstha and Giripremi – the two Pune groups – announced success of their respective expeditions on their Facebook pages. It was a bitter-sweet success for Sagarmatha group, though, as it lost one of its members, Ramesh Gulave, to altitude-related sickness in an earlier stage of the expedition a few days ago.

Eight climbers from Giripremi, including Tekraj Adhikari and Krishna Dhokale, and four from Sagarmatha Giryarohan – Shrihari Tapkir, Sagar Palkar, Balaji Mane and Anand Bansode – reached the summit from the `South Col` route, from Nepal.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan congratulated the two teams, saying that it was a proud moment for the state, which has a vibrant mountaineering culture.

This is not the first time that civilian mountaineers from Maharashtra have scaled the highest peak. In 1998, two climbers summited Everest from `North Col` route which starts in Tibet, under the leadership of Hrishikesh Yadav, making it the first successful Indian civilian expedition.

Talking to PTI, Yadav today congratulated the twelve mountaineers, and said the Indian mountaineers were as good as or better than the best in the world. He also appealed the mountaineers not to take the South Col route in future attempts.

The South Col route, taken by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay for their maiden ascent, is criticised by several mountaineering experts because of commercialisation, where "adventure tourists" end up taking undue risks.