Hong Kong-based climber sets off on expedition to scale Mount Everest

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 April, 2013, 8:00am

Nearly 60 years after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay conquered Mount Everest, a Hong Kong-based mountaineer wants to repeat the feat.

Austrian-born Paul Niel and his team have set off on a nine-week long expedition to scale the famous mountain, which at 8,848 metres is the highest in the world. They will also make an attempt at Lhotse, the world's fourth-highest mountain.

The expedition is part of a larger campaign he embarked on more than seven years ago - to climb the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Five have been scaled so far. But the sheer altitude, unpredictability of the weather and the remoteness of Everest - rescue is extremely difficult from the summit should anything go wrong - will prove to be his biggest challenge yet.

In 2005, he set off together with a friend on his "seven-seven" mission. Over the years, as work permitted, he has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa), Elbrus (Europe), Carstensz Pyramid (Oceania), Aconcagua (South America) and Mount Vinson (Antarctica).

"Last month, I decided to leave my job at Goldman Sachs with the goal of pursuing some of the adventures I have been dreaming of," Niel, 34, said. "So this spring I am attempting to climb the remaining two mountains - Everest [Asia] and Denali [North America]."

The team has reached base camp for the Everest challenge. "The aim is to be physically ready - to get acclimatised to the altitude - by mid-May to make a summit attempt," he said.

He is also raising money for local charity Enlighten - Action for Epilepsy. "I want to use my trip to raise awareness for epilepsy and raise money for the charity. I think we have raised HK$80,000 already."