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Russian climbers to summit Everest, pay respects to late heroes on the way

April 18, 14:18 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The expedition will begin on April 19, when all participants are scheduled to meet in Kathmandu, from where they will leave for Tibet

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© AP Photo/Karin Laub

MOSCOW, April 18. /TASS/. A group of Russian mountaineers is going to reach the high-risk zone on Mount Everest next month to pay respects to their predecessors who died on the mountain’s slopes in their ambitious treks towards the summit over the past century, the expedition’s organizers told a TASS news conference on Tuesday.

The project’s leader, Oleg Savchenko, a professional mountaineer, says that according to some estimates the bodies of more than 280 climbers and sherpas who lost their lives while scaling the world’s tallest peak over the past 90 years still lie on the slopes. Some remain on the spot where they breathed their last. Others had to be thrown down into the nearest crevasse by other mountaineering parties to clear the way.

"Such tragedies were many. We are going to do what feel to be our human duty. It will be a humanitarian gesture, a token of respect for the dead heroes, who perished in their daring attempts to conquer the Everest," Savchenko said.

The expedition’s woman participant Nadezhda Gubina, an information security specialist, says that above the 8,000-meter mark there lies a zone from where a human body cannot be recovered. It is beyond the reach of planes or helicopters. The group has made a decision to "encapsulate" the bodies it may come across on its way up: to cover with special rot-resistant fabric capable of withstanding air temperatures of 80 degrees below freezing to 80 degrees above zero. The cloth will be pinned down around the bodies with ice axes.

The expedition will begin on April 19, when all participants are scheduled to meet in Kathmandu, from where they will leave for Tibet. Reaching the base camp at an altitude of 5,200 meters will take five or six days. The trek to the summit and back is expected to last from May 20 to 25. The expedition hopes to be back to Moscow on May 30 or June 1. A group of twelve hopes to rise to the summit. Five trucks carrying two tonnes of special equipment and gear are already on the way to the site from where the expedition will set off.

Savchenko said his group hoped to encapsulate as many bodies as possible - seven or eight at the most.

This is a private initiative, said Gubina. No special money-raising campaigns had been launched. The Russian Geographic Society volunteered to extend a helping hand.

If some of the bodies found on the way are identified before encapsulation, the organizers will notify the relatives.

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