By Humphrey Carter
ON April 1, a team of four mountaineers will set off from Palma on an expedition to become the first Majorcans to climb Everest.
Joan Olivieri, Jose Maria Alvarez, Tolo Calafat and Tomeu Quetglas are all experienced climbers. They have all climbed to 8.000 metres and conquered many of the world's highest peaks but, mainly for financial reasons, the summit of Everest at 8.884 metres has eluded them - until now.

The team, ranging in age from early 30*s to early 50*s, aims to follow in the footsteps of Hillary and Tensing using the same route the climbers used 51 years ago when they conquered the summit.

It is also claimed to be one of the less demanding and less technical paths.
What is more, the team plan to reach the summit without oxygen, something only about five percent of the 2'800 mountaineers who have climbed Everest have done.

The expedition, which is primarily sponsored by the Council of Majorca, leaves Madrid for Kathmandu on April 1 and, after stocking up with last minute equipment and supplies, will then fly to Lukla, the Valley of the Sherpas, on April 6.

From Lukla, they will begin the ten-day climb to the Everest base camp at 5.400 metres.
The eight day climb is a vital part of the expedition as it enables the mountaineers to acclimatise.
All four are fit and healthy and have been preparing as best as possible, but as mountaineering is not officially recognised as a sport in the Balearics, funding and sponsorship is thin on the ground. But at the end of the day, the climbers maintain that until one gets to the base camp, it is very difficult to prepare properly for the actual climb.

Whether all four will reach the summit remains to be seen. It is very unusual for a complete team to make it to the top, but they are all agreed that their expedition will be a success if they can get just one up to the summit to plant the Majorcan flag. “It's a team effort and we'll all consider ourselves successful providing we can get one up there,” Tolo said.
There is no denying that they are nervous about the thought of breaching the 8'000 meter barrier “the line of death.” At that height, oxygen thins to just 30 percent and the blood starts to thicken as the red cells battle to hold on to as much oxygen as possible. “This is when your mind starts to play games with you and sometimes you are not fully conscious of what you are actually doing,” said Tomeu.
They will be sleeping at an altitude of 7'000 metres “this is when we're going to start finding out how our body responds and what our chances of reaching the summit realistically are,” he added.

The final night is spent at 8'500 metres “the line of death” and the final decision as to who, if any are going to make the final climb, will be made the following morning.

Often, climbers wake with serious altitude problems and have to return to the previous camp to acclimatise again before making a fresh assault on the summit. “We are all fully aware of the danger and what is humanly possible, if we're not feeling right, we'll wait another day,” said Oli.
Providing all goes well, the expedition has return tickets for June 10 - 62 days after they first set foot in Kathmandu.
However, they face two months of final training. Endurance and stamina are the two main strengths they are working on, and they need to raise more money.

Everest climbers have to pay a 10'000 euro fee to the Nepalese authorities in order to obtain a permit to climb the mountain. The whole expedition is going to cost 120'000 euros, 30'000 each and so far they only have half.

However, they are confident that over the next eight weeks, they can raise the rest of the money. If not, it will have to come out of their own pockets.

They are also busy explaining their trip and its dangers to family and friends - “there's always a possibility that you won't come home,” said Oli.

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