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Eight members of Rangoon University’s Hiking and Climbing Association have become the first ever Burmese expedition to scale the 5,881m peak of Burma’s highest mountain, Hkakabo Razi.
The eight reached the summit at 5pm on 31 August, exactly one month after setting off by foot from Putao in northern Kachin State.
The team, known as Thabawa Khawthan, literally “nature’s call”, planted the Burmese national flag and placed Buddha statues at the summit, said Myo Thant, chairman of the Nature’s Call Foundation.
“They stayed at the peak for only about half an hour, because it was nearly dark,” he said. “The weather conditions were very harsh. They planted the Burmese flag and left four Buddha statues at the summit before descending.”
The team, led by Aung Myint Myat, were all reported to be in good health and were expected to reach base camp on 8 September.
The eight-man team practiced for about a year and a half on bare rock face in Kachin State and ice mountains in China before they attempted Hkakabo Razi.
Although this marks the first ever ascent of Southeast Asia’s highest peak by a squad of Burmese mountaineers, a Tibetan-born Burmese national named Nyima Gyaltsen (a.k.a. Aung Tse) accompanied the first successful expedition, led by Japanese climber Takashi Ozaki, to ascend the mountain in 1996. Ozaki died attempting to climb Mount Everest in 2011.
The Himalayan peak of Hkakabo Razi marks the tri-border between Burma, India and China. In 1924, an Indian geological team first measured the mountain at 19,295 feet (5,881m).