The team that made the first winter summit of the second highest peak in the world is heading home to welcome a hero.
A team of Nepalese mountaineers who made the first winter summit of K2, the second highest peak in the world, returned to a heroic welcome from crowds of sympathizers.
The 10 men, who climbed the 8,611-meter (28,251-foot) summit of K2 on January 16, attributed their success to team spirit and a desire to heighten their country’s pride.
The mountain, which straddles the border between Pakistan and China, was first climbed in 1954 but was never reached in winter.
“We were successful in our efforts because we worked as a team,” said Nirmal Purja, the team leader, at a public ceremony to welcome them again.
“If we unite, we conquer… if we are divided, we fall,” he added.
He said that the ascent of K2 was a huge achievement to be celebrated for all climbers. “It’s bigger than winning the World Cup.”
Purja, 37, also holds the record for climbing the 14 highest mountains in the world in a record time of six months and a week.
Fans and families placed colorful Buddhist prayer scarves on climbers’ shoulders as they arrived at Nepal’s international airport in Kathmandu.
“With this success, we have made our country proud, even risking our own lives,” Purja told reporters at the airport before they were driven into the temple-strewn city in an open truck.
All but one are Sherpas, an ethnic group known for their climbing skills.