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On Top Of The World

In a crowded week on the roof of the world, two Americans became the first blind climber and the oldest man to reach the summit of Mount Everest on Friday.

They were among 94 people who scaled the world's highest peak in the past four days from the Nepalese side of the mountain.

Erik Weihenmayer, from Golden, Colo., became the first blind climber to conquer the peak, the National Federation of the Blind reported. The athlete, who uses a pair of long poles to sweep in front of him as he climbs, reached the summit at about 10 a.m. local time.

"Great summit news," the federation which sponsored the expedition said on its Website.

In all, eight climbers of a ten-member U.S. expedition climbed the mountain.

"This is quite an amazing and extraordinary feat for a blind climber to reach the summit," said Ang Karma, a mountaineering expert. "A majority of the people have difficulty even getting to the base camp, let alone the summit."

Weihenmayer, 32, lost his sight as a teenager and took up rock climbing three years later. He has already conquered Mount McKinley in Alaska, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Sherman Bull, a 64-year-old physician from New Canaan, Conn., who was climbing with his son Bradford Bull, became the oldest climber to scale the mountain a few minutes before Weihenmayer reached the summit.

On Tuesday, a 15-year-old Sherpa boy became the youngest climber to reach the top. Eighth-grade student Temba Tsheri — who lost five fingers from frostbite during an attempt to climb Mt. Everest last year — succeeded in reaching the top.

The last four days have seen a rush to reach the peak before the mountaineering season ends May 31. This year's season, which kicked off March 1, has been plagued by bad weather.

Since the first recorded conquest of Everest in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, more than 800 people have conquered the world's tallest peak. Some 170 people have lost their lives on the mountain's unpredictable slopes.

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