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Mountaineer Leo Oracion
reaches Mt. Everest summit

May 17, 2006 5:58pm
Mountaineer Heracleo "Leo" Oracion reached the peak of the 29,035-foot-high Mt. Everest on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. in Manila), becoming the first Filipino to ascend the world’s highest mountain.

The head of the First Philippine Mount Everest Expendition, Anthony Valdez, made the announcement Wednesday evening. The information that Oracion and his Sherpa guides had made it to the top was relayed by a liaison officer from Nepal's Ministry of Information.

Oracion, a member of the expedition, made his summit assault via the south trail in Nepal.

GMA 7 reporter Jiggy Manicad reported live Wednesday from Base Camp that Sherpas told him climbers can only stay at the summit for 15-20 minutes because of the thin air.

It would take them 11-17 hours to make it back to Camp 4 at 26,000 feet.

Mountaineers eventually need to get back to Base Camp, a village at 17,600 feet and found below the four numbered camps en route to the summit.

Mountaineer Romi Garduce is also attempting to reach Mt. Everest’s summit through the same south trail.

Manicad reported that Garduce is nearing Camp 3, and is expected to reach the summit on Friday.

Earlier, Garduce wished well other Filipino climbers aiming for the summit of Mt. Everest this year.

Oracion's teammate, Erwin “Pastor" Emata, will try to reach the summit on Thursday.

Another Filipino, Dale Abenojar, is making his attempt via the north trail in Tibet, China.

Manicad said that Garduce consistently told him in conversations that he would also feel proud should his fellow climbers first reach the summit of Mt. Everest because it was "not a race but a journey."

In previous interviews, Garduce, 37, insisted he would like to pace his body and mind in scaling Mt. Everest. He also put weight on the advice of Sherpa guides.

Up to 21 expedition teams from different countries are vying to reach the summit this year.


GOOD NEWS

More teams successfully summited Mt. Everest from the north route Wednesday morning, Nepalese time.

In the last 48 hours, triumphant expeditions came from the Tibet side.

Terres del Ebre, the second Catalan expedition, scaled the summit. The members are Agustí Pallarés, Ferrán Escrivá, Josep A. Sancho, David Ferrer, Marc Flos and David Borrás..

Joan Cardona, 46, member of the Comarques Gironines team, also made it to the top. Her teammates, who also came from the Tibet route, are Arnau Julià, Rafel Fuentes, Jordi Cañigueral, Lluís Julià, and Jordi Servosa.

Two Britons also scaled the 29,035-foot peak around 8:15 am, local time. James Hooper and Rob Gauntlett, now the youngest Britons to summit Everest, are members of the team Adventure Peaks headed by Stu Peacock. The two celebrated their 19the birthday during the expedition.

Minutes later, after Hooper, Gauntlett and Peacock succeeded to reach the summit, Britons Conna Harrod and Scott McNaughton also reached the top with their Sherpa.

Earlier Malaysian climber Ravi, whose fingers suffered from frost bite, also scaled the summit together with the Norwegian team of Tomas Olsson and Tormod Granheim.

Himex's second team, which included double amputee Mark Inglis, was successful in its assault on Monday, May 15.

With Himex are four members of the Turkish expedition. One of them, Elif, became the first Turkish woman to reach the highest point on earth.

About noon, Nepalese time, more teams from the South side started to make things happen as they advanced from the lower camps for their final journey to the summit.

The teams are expected to make it to the world’s highest point in the next two to three days.

Deep snow has slowed down the South side, although it has been reported that the weather is holding up at the moment.

The unique Everest Medical Clinic at the Base Camp, headed by Dr. Luanne Freer, anticipated a full house as South side teams began positioning for their final push, explorersweb.com reported.

BAD NEWS

German mountaineer Kristina Kovasevic, 41, has been reported missing. She made last contact through an e-mail sent from Namche Bazaar on March 13, MountEverest.net reported. She arrived in Nepal in February to do a trek from Jiri to the Khumbu Valley and was last seen by a French woman March 6.

The journey to the summit is fraught with peril and seven people have died in this year’s climbing season.

A British climber died, bringing the death toll in the Everest region this season to seven, the Indo Asian News Service (IANS) reported on Wednesday.

David Sharp, a 34-year-old from Guisborough, Cleveland, died probably due to lack of oxygen, IANS reported based on information from the Kathmandu-based mountaineering and trekking agency that supported Sharp.

Last May 9, Czech climber Pavel Kalny died also when he fell while scaling the Lhotse Face. Earlier, three Sherpas were killed at an ice avalanche at the Khumbu Icefall.

TIMELINE

FEBRUARY 2006

Leo Oracion and Erwin “Pastor" Emata arrive at the Everest area to train and acclimatize to the extreme cold and high altitude.

APRIL 2006

First week of April - Oracion and Emata, the lead climbers of the First Philippine Mount Everest Expedition, begin camping at the Everest Base Camp where they waited for the other members of their team.

Third week of April - Oracion and Pastor cross Khumbu Icefall and proceed to Camps 1, 2 and 3.

On April 29, the two return to Base Camp from Camp 3.

MAY 2006

Second week of May - Oracion and Emata again trek to Camp 2 and Camp 3 to continue the acclimatization process before returning to Base Camp.

May 13 – Oracion left Base Camp to begin his assault on the summit.

May 16 – Oracion reaches Camp 4 (26,000 feet above sea level).

May 17 – Oracion arrives at the Balcony (27,700 feet) early in the morning (Nepalese time)

10:50 a.m. (local time) – Oracion makes it to the South ridge, 300 feet away from the summit

3:30 p.m. (local time) or 5:30 p.m. (Philippines) – Oracion becomes the first Filipino to summit the world’s tallest peak at 29,035 feet. -GMANews.TV