Two teams of 20 mountaineers from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad scaled the 8848-metre Mount Everest and reached its summit early on Saturday morning, becoming the first climbers this season to reach the top.

“They set off on their expedition on March 23, and reached the summit at 6.45 a.m. This is India's first ascent of this season, after the routes opened,” Sangeet Tapkir, brother of mountaineer Shrihari Tapkir told The Hindu on the phone.

The teams of youths are now on their return path, and have reached camp two. They are expected to reach base camp on Sunday.

Unfavourable climate and the demise of a team member, Ramesh Gulave, made the task daunting for the climbers.

“For the last ten days, the climate was very bad. Moreover, one member had a paralytic stroke and died. The pressure, therefore, was very high. Despite these setbacks, the team decided to go ahead with the expedition,” Mr. Sangeet Tapkir said.

The mountaineers belonged to the Sagarmatha Giryarohan Sanstha and Giripremi institutes.

Eight of the mountaineers collectively had a budget of Rs 1.60 crore, and raising funds for the expedition was a big challenge.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan congratulated the climbers. “The youths have brought honour to Maharashtra,” Mr. Chavan said, in a statement.