A team of 34 U.S. climbers--including five women and two high school students--have embarked from Travis Air Force Base to become the first Americans to assault Mt. Everest, the world's highest peak, from the brutally cold and windy Chinese side. Two of the women were picked to be among the six who will attempt the final trek to the 29,028-foot summit.
No American woman has ever conquered the Himalayan peak, and only Chinese and Spanish teams have successfully climbed the Chinese route to Everest. "It isn't just a climb. It's a journey," said Bob Skinner, 58, who assembled the group from across the country for the expedition. Hopping a ride with the military, the expeditioners left for Tibet aboard a C-5A Air Force transport plane. Douglas Burbank, a UCLA geologist, will study glacial aspects of the mountain.