World | Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:24pm IST

Two sons follow fathers' footsteps to conquer Everest

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - The sons of two members of the first U.S. team to scale Mount Everest are hoping to climb the world's highest mountain, replicating their fathers' feat nearly half a century after the historic first U.S. ascent.

Leif Whittaker is the son of Jim Whittaker, who climbed the 8,850 metre (29,035 feet) Everest in 1963 and was the first U.S. climber to set foot on the summit. Leif will take the same standard Southeast Ridge route used by his father.

The Southeast Route was pioneered in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the first two men to climb the peak.

Jeevan Ghimire, a senior official of the Sherpa Shangrila Treks and Expedition agency, providing logistics to the team, said Leif was presently acclimatising and preparing for his final assault on the peak.

"Leif is at the base camp now and is expected to make the summit bid in May," Ghimire told Reuters on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Leif, who first summited Everest in 2010, is part of a four-member team led by veteran Everest climber Dave Hahn, who has climbed the mountain more than a dozen times.

Brent Bishop, 45 years old and the son of Barry Bishop - also a member of the pioneering 1963 U.S. team - will be climbing the mountain as well, but with a separate team taking the difficult and rarely used West Ridge route. He has climbed Everest twice before, most recently in 2002.

There are dozens of expeditions to Mount Everest in the current climbing season, which ends in May. Nearly 3,700 people have climbed the mountain and at least 231 have died on its slopes.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; editing by Elaine Lies)

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