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UTAH CLIMBERS HOPE TO REACH SUMMIT SOON

Utahns on Everest expects to reach the summit of Mount Everest sometime Thursday, culminating a quest that began five years ago.

Lee McCullough, a Salt Lake attorney, visited the four-man team at a base camp on the mountain last week. McCullough and his wife, Pam, originally planned to ascend Everest with the team but dropped out of the expedition.Instead, the McCulloughs helped organize the team's medical supplies and food before they left Utah on Aug. 16. The McCulloughs traveled to Nepal on Sept. 10 to offer the Utahns encouragement before their final attack on the mountain.

The four members of Utahns on Everest are: Stanton Smith, a Salt Lake podiatrist; Craig Bishop, a member of the Utah National Guard; Keith Hooker, an emergency room doctor at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center; and Howard Chuntz, a Provo attorney.

Team member Doug Hansen, who hatched the idea of scaling the world's highest peak and held the team and the dream together over the past five years, abandoned the climb and returned to Utah several weeks ago after catching a respiratory virus.

McCullough sent a facsimile updating the team's progress Tuesday.

Utahns on Everest spent three weeks traveling to Nepal and making final preparations for the climb. They spent the next four weeks packing equipment part way up the mountain, establishing camps at several altitudes. The team's advanced base camp is at 18,300 feet.

The other camps are at 20,300 feet, 22,000 feet and 25,000 feet. Everest's peak is 29,028 feet above sea level.

The team spent a week resting at the advanced base camp before starting their summit bid on Sunday, McCullough wrote. The team planned to reach its highest camp Tuesday.

"From this 25,000-feet camp they will carry all they need for a night and day to a new high camp at 27,500 feet on Everest's north face," McCullough wrote. "The summit attempt is expected on Oct. 1."

The team has progressed farther up the mountain than "larger, better-equipped and better-sponsored teams" who started their climbs before Utahns on Everest, Mc-Cullough wrote.

"Weather and health will be the keys to success now. If both stay good a Utahn should be atop this Himalayan giant of rock and ice soon," he wrote.