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First Swiss woman reaches summit of Everest

Evelyne Binsack pressed on to the summit without her Swiss team mates


Evelyne Binsack, a climber from the Bernese Oberland, has become the first Swiss woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

"I reached the summit at 6:30am [on Wednesday] and watched a great sunrise. It was just beautiful," Binsack told swissinfo via satellite telephone. "I was very excited about reaching the top and now I've come back down to our base camp."

Binsack exploited a "window" of good weather and made the final push for the peak on her own, leaving the Swiss photographer, Robert Bösch, behind at the camp.

"I felt great and I was passing people. Then I was almost alone on the mountain and began having a little problem with my oxygen. Then there were two sherpas who passed me. We were the first four on the summit," she said.

It took Binsack around five-and-a-half hours to reach the peak of 8,850-metre mountain.

Earlier, she said this was the "only chance" her team had of reaching the top because weather conditions were expected to deteriorate at the end of the week.

Early May is the best time to tackle Everest, as the coming monsoon rains push the high-speed, hurricane-force jet stream winds northwards over Tibet. But the time available is short as the monsoon also brings snow to the Himalayas.

Binsack left her base camp on Sunday along with Swiss photographer, Robert Bösch, and the rest of her team. Four days of clear skies are needed to reach the top of what the Nepalese call the "goddess of the sky".

The 34-year-old Binsack is best known to Swiss television viewers for her 1999 ascent of the Eiger's fearsome north face in the Bernese Oberland, which was carried live by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.

Binsack told swissinfo that now she has conquered Everest, she hopes to continue clocking up hours as a pilot. "I am a young helicopter pilot and now I would really like to move on with flying in a commercial company."

Plans to scale another of the world's 14 8,000-metre peaks are still up in the air, according to Binsack. "I don't know, maybe it's too early to think about that," she joked.

Three Swiss women attempted to reach the summit of Everest last year, but failed. The first woman to conquer Everest was the Japanese climber Junko Tabei in 1975.


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