Indian border guards to ski down Everest, eye record

Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:57am EDT
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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An expedition by India's border guards will try to scale Mount Everest next month and ski down to a base camp in a world record attempt, officials said Wednesday.

The 28-member team will climb Mount Everest from the South Col and scale the 8,850 meter (29,035 feet) summit before skiing down to the nearest camp, Vikram Shirvastava, head of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, said.

"This expedition is also vital for honing the skills in operational preparedness and also crucial for survival strategy," Palaniappan Chidambaram, the country's home minister, said at a flag-off ceremony Wednesday.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Force is a federal police force that guards India's border with China, along with the army.

The mission would also highlight environmental issues, team members said.

"Eight of us are skiers who will ski down the summit, while the rest of us will clear the garbage left behind by mountaineering teams at high altitudes," said Harbhajan Singh, the expedition team member.

Environmental activists say Mount Everest is littered with the trash left behind by climbers in the past.

The team hopes to set up their first base camp at 17,500 feet by August 26 before starting their month-long expedition.

(Reporting by Bappa Majumdar; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Sugita Katyal)