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Pune Giripremi’s Travails: To the death zone and back, six successful times

Pune-based trekking institute Giripremi now lays claim to being the first in India to climb six peaks above 8,000m.

pune Updated: Sep 28, 2017 23:44 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
death zone and back,Pune Giripremi’s Travails,Umesh Zirpe
Akshay Patki (left) and Ashish Mane of Giripremi on Mount Manaslu after their successful climb.(HT PHOTO)

The ‘death zone’ is the name used by mountain climbers for high altitudes, usually above 8,000 metres (26,247 feet).

Pune-based trekking institute Giripremi now lays claim to being the first in India to climb six peaks above 8,000m. This was achieved after two of their trekkers, Ashish Mane and Akshay Patki, scaled Mount Manaslu recently.

However, for expedition leader Umesh Zirpe the expedition isn’t over until you get back down and ensure that all the trekkers are safe and sound.

“Due to less oxygen, instant changes in weather, extreme cold, avalanches and other natural changes, coming back safely from the ‘death zone’ is very challenging. We are glad that all our expeditions from the death zone have returned safely. I feel that’s the biggest achievement for us,” Zirpe told HT over the phone from Kathmandu, Nepal.

The journey of the ‘Giripremi 8000er club’ started with a successful expedition to Mt. Everest in 2012, followed by Mt. Lhotse (4th highest) in 2013, Mt. Makalu (5th highest) in 2014, Mt. Cho Oyu (6th highest) in 2016, Mt. Dhaulagiri (7th highest) in 2016 followed by Mt. Manaslu (8th highest) this year.

Talking about the challenges, he said, “We carried out this expedition in the shortest period of time. We were fortunate that the weather was good and the team completed the expedition within 17 days. After climbing the summit at 4am, they climbed down all the way to base camp on the same day within 12 hours, which in itself is a record.”

The team tackled ice walls on their way from camp 1 to camp 2 and also faced difficulties in passing through blue ice (hard ice) and crossing deep crevasses.

New expeditions

The Giripremi team is now planning another big challenge of Kangchenjunga (8,586m) in 2019, followed by Annapurna (8,091m).

“There are 14 peaks in the world which are above 8,000m. We have a long way to go finish all of them. We are hopeful,” said Zirpe, who is a Chhatrapati awardee.

First Published: Sep 28, 2017 23:44 IST