Monday, 5 June, 2023

Nepali climber makes record 27th Everest summit: expedition

Nepali climber Kami Rita Sherpa reached the top of Mount Everest for the 27th time on Wednesday, reclaiming the record for the most summits of the world's highest mountain.

"He successfully reached the summit this morning guiding a Vietnamese climber," Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks, his expedition organiser, told AFP.

The 53-year-old had held the title since 2018, when he ascended Everest for the 22nd time, passing the previous mark he shared with two other Sherpa climbers, both of whom have since retired.

But on Sunday another climber, Pasang Dawa Sherpa, 46, tied the record by reaching the top for the 26th time.

A guide for more than two decades, Kami Rita Sherpa first summited the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) peak in 1994 when working for a commercial expedition.

Since then, he has climbed Everest almost every year, several times leading the first rope-fixing team to open the route to the world's highest point.

"These records were made not with an intention to make them but during my work as a guide," Sherpa told AFP last month as he headed to the base camp.

Dubbed "the Everest man", Sherpa was born in 1970 in Thame, a village in the Himalayas renowned as a breeding ground for successful mountaineers.

Growing up, Sherpa watched his father and then his brother don climbing gear to join expeditions as mountain guides, and was soon following in their footsteps.

In 2019, he reached the summit twice in the span of six days.

Nepal is home to eight of the world's 10 highest peaks and welcomes hundreds of adventurers each spring, when temperatures are warm and winds are typically calm.

Authorities have issued 478 permits to foreign climbers this year, the $11,000 fee part of total costs for a summit ranging from $45,000 to $200,000.

Since most will need a guide, more than 900 people -- a record -- will try to summit this season, which runs until early June.

Nepali guides, usually ethnic Sherpas from the valleys around Everest, are considered the backbone of the climbing industry and bear huge risks to carry equipment and food, fix ropes and repair ladders.