A BAND of super-fit mountaineers are hoping to become the first in history to scale an obscure Himalayan summit.

A nine-strong group from Durham-based Fire and Ice Expeditions, led by one British and one local guide, will attempt to conquer the unknown and mysterious Mukot Peak, which reaches 19,970ft into the sky above Nepal, in late October.

The trip will take three weeks, with the team flying out to South Asia on Saturday, October 17.

The Nepalese government has only just licensed climbing of Mukot, but the Fire and Ice squad faces a race to be the first to the summit, as two other team permits have been issued for this season.

Chair Ernie Clark, at 65 the oldest member of the group, said: “It’s unknown, so there’s a certain excitement about nobody having climbed it before. But we prepare the same way we prepare for any climb."

The crew also includes Fire and Ice stalwart John Robson, who is undertaking his first expedition since being struck down in March 2013 by polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), a relatively unknown condition that left him in extreme pain and powerless virtually overnight.

He said: “The illness has changed me. But this is getting back to something I like doing with a bunch of guys I like doing it with.”

The former firefighter is now off steroids, but admitted: “I honestly don’t know how it’s going to go.”

Asked why the team wanted to climb Mukot, Mr Clark, of Richmond, said: “It’s a personal challenge. It’s the camaraderie, there’s spectacular scenery and there’s a romance and spirituality to it.”

Over 11 years, Fire and Ice members have climbed the highest mountains in South and North America, Europe and to Mount Everest base camp, raising £114,000 for charity along the way by staging balls and giving talks and presentations about their adventures.

All expedition costs are covered by the participants, meaning every penny raised goes to the good causes, which have included Sunningdale special school in Sunderland, Heel and Toe children’s charity, the Treetops children’s ward at the University Hospital of North Durham, the British Lung Foundation and the Fire Fighters Charity. This year, special donations will be made to Yorkshire Cancer Research and Community Action Nepal.

Mr Clark said: “We’ve taken so much from the countries we’ve visited, in terms of the joy we’ve experienced, so we want to give something back.”

For more information or to make a donation, visit fireandiceexpeditions.com