Two Tibetans lead Grand Slam team to South Pole
Tibetan mountaineers have proved their world-class competence once again after two climbers from the region achieved “seven plus two” on Sunday — reaching the highest peaks on all seven continents and Earth’s two poles.
Tsering Tandar and Dechen Ngodup, sent by China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, Hubei province, where they are graduate students, reached the South Pole at 6:16 am on Sunday. In doing so, they finished the nine-challenge adventure known as the Explorers Grand Slam, which has been accomplished by only about 50 people in the world.
Chinese climbers first achieved the feat in 2005 when Wang Yongfeng, captain of the national mountaineering team, reached the South Pole to conquer the last challenge on his seven plus two list.
The team from China University of Geosciences initiated its own challenge in May 2012 after successfully climbing the world’s highest peak, Qomolangma — known in the West as Mount Everest — from the north slope in the Tibet autonomous region.
The team that reached the South Pole on Sunday comprises three student explorers, including the two Tibetans, as well as two professors.
After leaving Wuhan on Dec 2, the team climbed 4,892-meter-high Mount Vinson, the highest peak on the continent, on Dec 14 to achieve the eighth challenge on their list.
Regrouped and refreshed, the team started to march toward the South Pole on Dec 18, despite extreme cold and strong winds, and succeeded seven days later.
“It is much more difficult to trek and climb in Antarctica than anywhere else in the world,” Liu Rui, the team’s liaison, told Xinhua News Agency.
Tsering Tandar and Dechen Ngodup played a significant role in leading the team under such conditions, relying on their rich experience in highaltitude mountaineering, said Liu.
Nyima Tsering, deputy director of the Tibet autonomous region’s Sports Bureau, said the completion of the challenge this time signified the start of a transition in Tibetan mountaineering.
“Tibet’s mountaineering has been transforming from the traditional phase of climbing high to the new period of developing an industry. It has grown to a wider range of sports including skiing, paragliding and rescuing.”
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