Two Burmese mountaineers are closing in on a goal that has so far eluded their compatriots — the summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain at 8,848m (29,029 ft).
According to the website of the Htoo Foundation, which is sponsoring the climb, two members of a three-person team set off early this morning for Camp-3, the penultimate camp, and are expected to reach the summit on Thursday morning if weather conditions permit.
The climb marks the second attempt by Burmese mountaineers to be the first from their country to scale a peak that has claimed at least 250 lives since Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary made the first ascent in 1953.
The previous attempt, in 2014, was called off because of deadly avalanches, including one that left at least 13 Sherpa porters dead two years ago.
On its website, the Htoo Foundation — established by Burmese tycoon Tay Za — highlighted the risks to climbers, saying that one member of the team had been forced to forego reaching the ultimate goal because of health problems associated with high altitudes.
“Ko Nyi Nyi Aung was checked up by the sophisticated medical instruments three times” and was found to have a rapid heartbeat and dangerously low oxygen levels in his blood, the website said.
“During the expedition, he might face heart attacks and his lung and blood circulation could be damaged,” it said, adding that two other members of the team — Pyae Phyo Aung and Win Ko Ko — were still on track to plant the Burmese flag at the summit within a couple of days.
The Htoo Foundation has also been involved in other high-profile climbs, including one on Burma’s highest mountain, the Hkakabo Razi, that ended in tragedy.
A rescue mission to find two Burmese mountaineers who had reached the peak of the mountain in northern Kachin State ended with a helicopter crash that resulted in the death of its Burmese pilot, Capt. Aung Myat Toe.