KATHMANDU: Four Nepali Sherpa climbers left on Monday on a mission to climb Mt Everest, the world’s highest mountain, in five days. If they achieved this feat, it will be a record for shortest winter ascent in nearly three decades.

The team is led by 34-year-old Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, who has climbed Everest eight times. Other climbers are Ming Temba Sherpa, Halung Dorchi Sherpa and Pasang Nurbu Sherpa.

“We know it is extremely risky and difficult to climb Everest during the winter. But we are prepared for this challenge,” said Tashi Lakpa Sherpa.

Temperatures in the death zone of Everest can drop as low as to -40 degrees C in winter.

The last winter ascent of the mountain dates to 1993, and many winter expeditions since have failed to reach the top, said Mira Acharya, director at the Department of Tourism.

Krzysztof Wielicki of Poland first climbed the world’s tallest peak in the dead of winter on February 17, 1980.

Ang Rita Sherpa, known by the epithet of Snow Leopard, has climbed Everest 10 times without using supplemental oxygen, and one of his ascents was in the winter of 1987-88.

Everest has never been climbed in winter since 1993.

Currently two team–the Spaniard Everest expedition and German team—are currently acclimatizing on the slope of Everest.

Since Everest was first summitted by New Zealand beekeeper Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953, about 5,000 people have reached the top, but more than 300 people have died on its slopes.