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Gainesville, Florida resident Ron Farb and 11 other climbers left the relative comfort of base camp Tuesday to begin their ascent to the summit of Mount Everest.

The winds have been exceptionally strong at higher elevations of the 29,035-foot mountain, making for delays and dangerous conditions.

"We just have to be patient and wait for the safe time to go," Farb reported via e-mail from camp.

The group, which is being guided by Alpine Ascents, spent a week at lower elevations, resting and eating before the all-important summit push.

Because Camp 1, located at 19,500 feet, has been struck by two avalanches, the climbers will push themselves from the base camp to Camp 2, at 21,500 feet. They are following the South Col route first climbed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay in 1953.

Since that pair reached the summit, 1,581 people from 65 countries have climbed Everest, and at least 187 others have died in the attempt. Nineteen permits have been issued to teams to climb this spring, the only time of year when an ascent is possible.
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