Eight Eton schoolboys are preparing to travel more than 4,600 miles to Everest in a bid to fly an Olympic flag from the mountain for the first time.
The group — the youngest member is 13 — will leave for Kathmandu on Thursday. They will be greeted by the British ambassador in the Nepalese capital before beginning an 18-day trek to Everest base camp.
There the flag will be handed to sherpa Phurba Tashi, who has completed the challenge 19 times. He will then attempt to carry it to the summit, 8,850 metres up, by early May. Expedition leader Serena Brocklebank, an Eton “dame” or house mistress, said the idea came about after the boys said they wanted to go an expedition to Everest.
When they heard that the British embassy in Nepal wanted to take a flag to the top of the mountain they decided to combine the two ideas.
Miss Brocklebank, who used to live in Nepal where she worked as vice consul for three years and as an expedition leader for two, said: “The boys very much wanted to do an Everest base camp trip anyway but we thought ‘what better way to celebrate London 2012 than by taking a flag from a low altitude venue to the highest altitude in the world.”
Eton’s rowing centre at Dorney Lake near Windsor is the venue for the rowing and kayak events in the Olympic and Paralympics.
Tommaso Cuniberti, 15, Ned Kenwright, 14, Alastair Revell, 15, Benedict Burgess-Smith, 15, Olav Dyvik Henke, 15, Magnus Burgess-Smith, 13, Timothy Rawlinson, 14, and Fred Parry, 15, are due to set off on the expedition.
Accompanying them will be teachers Dr Ed Russell and Nick Leathers.
Magnus said: “It’s not really that daunting being the youngest, but I’ve not done something like this before. I’ve been training hard running and doing sport at school.
“It will be quite an experience. I can’t wait to get back and when people ask me what I did over Easter I’ll be able to say, ‘I went to Everest’. ”
Alastair, who has climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, said: “Going to base camp will be pretty good. I’ve heard there are some pretty good monasteries as well.
“We’ll get the flag to base camp and I’m pretty sure it’ll get to the top.”