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The first American to climb Mount Everest without oxygen...

KATMANDU, Nepal -- The first American to climb Mount Everest without oxygen tanks has scaled 20,100-foot Loboche, another Himalayan peak, the expedition announced today.

Larry Nielson, 36, a school teacher from Olympia, Wash., and Ang Gyalzen, 30, his Sherpa guide, reached the summit by the southeast route April 25 but did not announce the fact until they returned to the capital today.

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Leonard Torobin, 52, a corporate executive from Atlanta who had planned to make the climb, stayed at base camp with an ear infection.

'It was technically a very difficult climb,' said Nielson, who climbed Everest last year without oxygen tanks. 'Physically, it was harder on Everest (but) the present climb was technically more challenging.'

The pair finished the climb in 6 hours.

'The last part of the climb was very difficult,' Nielson said. 'We had to pass a narrow ridge heavily corniced on one side and the other side was a vertical fall at around 19,600 feet. A fall here would have meant virtual death.'

The pair reached the peak in fog, stayed a short time on the summit taking photographs and climbed down to the base camp the same day.

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At one point the expedition had thought of abandoning the climb.

'For four days we experienced bad weather and avalanching on the route. There was always fresh snow on the mountain. It was dangerous. We were about to call off the climb,' said Nielson.

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