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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 March, 2005, 10:04 GMT
Pupils in Everest dream attempt
The students' Everest climb is to be attempted in the spring
Two 17-year-olds are aiming to fulfil their childhood dreams and become the youngest Britons to climb Everest.

James Hooper, from Somerset, and Robert Gauntlett, from West Sussex, will make the 8,850m Everest attempt next spring.

They have already attempted the 7,027m Mt Spantik, Pakistan, and plan to climb 6,850m Ama Dablam in Nepal this summer.

The youngest person to make the ascent was Ming Kipa Sherpa, 15, in 2003. Sir Edmund Hillary was 33 when he became the first to reach the summit in 1953.

A 21-year-old British mountaineer also reached the top last year.

There are a number of reasons why being young works against you
James Hooper

"Since we first read about Everest when we were four or five, it is something which both of us have wanted to do," James said.

He said they first thought of attempting the climb in 2003.

Since then, they have been "planning intermediate expeditions to give us the experience and keep as fit as we can".

He also said their age could hinder their progress.

"There are a number of reasons why being young works against you.

'Altitude sickness'

"Your body doesn't have the necessary experience of altitude."

Preparing for the trip involves both training and seeking sponsorship for the A-Level students, pupils at Christ's Hospital School, near Horsham, West Sussex.

"If you're young and healthy and if you're used to pushing yourself hard, you can push yourself too hard at altitude, making you more susceptible to altitude sickness," added James.

This month, British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, 60, is setting off on an expedition to the summit of Everest along the hazardous North Ridge route.

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