International

Italians are first couple to reach world’s highest summits

ROME: Two Italian climbers on Thursday made it to the top of Nepal’s Annapurna peak, and at the same time set a record as the first couple to conquer the world’s 14 highest mountains.

Romano Benet and his wife Nives Meroi, both 55, reached the 8,091-metre (26,545-foot) Annapurna summit on Thursday morning, without using oxygen or porters just as they have in all their ascents, according to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

The final climb to the top starting at an altitude of 7,200 metres was “the hardest but also the most beautiful,” Meroi told her sister Leila, the newspaper said.

Annapurna and K2 (8,611 metres) are considered the most difficult and most dangerous summits for climbers, apart from the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest (8,848 metres).

Before the Italian couple, only 34 mountain climbers had been able to conquer the Earth’s 14 highest summits — all over 8,000 metres — and only half of them did it without oxygen.

The first one was the legendary Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner who completed his climbs in 1986 before retiring.

Among women, Korean Oh Eun-sun entered the record books in 2009 after climbing Kangchenjunga (8,586 metres) in the Himalayan range.

Meroi was a contender for the female title, but she took a break in 2009 to be by the side of her sick husband.

The two resumed their quest for setting a mountain climbing record together in 2012.

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