KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) – Forty-two climbers took advantage of improved weather Thursday to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, from its Nepalese side, mountaineering officials said.

American, Australian, Austrian, British, Canadian, German, Korean, Philippine, Polish, Spanish and Swiss climbers, along with their Sherpa guides, reached the 29,035-foot summit, said Rajendra Pandey at Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism in Katmandu.

Teams using the popular south route to the peak had been holed up for days at base camp because of heavy snow and high winds, but a break in the weather allowed at least 15 climbers to scale Everest on Wednesday. Climbers on the northern side in Tibet, meanwhile, have experienced better conditions and were able to begin summit attempts earlier.

May is considered the best month to climb Everest. Climbers in Nepal have to complete their mission by May 31 before the monsoon season.

Since Everest was first conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953, more than 2,450 climbers have scaled the peak, and some 190 people have died trying.

A Maine mountaineer is among those who scaled Everest this season. On May 11, John Bagnulo of New Vineyard reached the summit on his 36th birthday.

Bagnulo, a nutrition professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, had attempted the climb with Bill Yeo, 40, of Durham. But Yeo halted his climb less than 2,000 feet from the summit after he began coughing up blood.

Bagnulo said his descent included a major scare. While making his way down from the summit with another climber and down one of two sheer, 40-foot high walls of rock, a metal anchor used to secure ropes pulled from a crack in the wall. It caused Bagnulo to swing like a pendulum from a rope at 29,000 feet.

He continued his descent safely after he was able to stop swinging.

AP-ES-05-18-06 1434EDT