Nepali mountaineer Kami Rita Sherpa reached the summit of Everest for the 27th time on Wednesday, breaking his own record for the most ascents of the highest mountain in the world, the organizer of his expedition announced .
“He successfully reached the summit this morning while guiding a Vietnamese climber,” Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks told AFP.
But the mountaineering season got off to a tragic start this year on Everest with the disappearance of three Nepalese climbers in April and an American in early May. And earlier on Wednesday, a 46-year-old Moldovan mountaineer died on the mountain.
Nepal is home to eight of the ten highest peaks in the world, including Everest, which rises to 8,849 meters above sea level, and welcomes hundreds of climbers each season, when the temperatures are milder and the winds generally weaker.
On Wednesday, British mountain guide Kenton Cool, 49, had summited Everest for the 17th time, breaking his own record for the most summits reached by a non-Nepalese.
Kami Rita Sherpa, 53, held the record for the number of Everest ascents since 2018 which he climbed for the 22nd time, beating his own record which he shared with two other Sherpas. They have since retired.
“The Everest Man”
But on Sunday, Nepalese mountaineer Pasang Dawa Sherpa, 46, equaled Kami Rita Sherpa’s latest record by reaching the summit of Everest for the 26th time.
A mountain guide for more than 20 years, Kami Rita Sherpa first climbed Everest in 1994, working for a commercial expedition.
Since then, he has climbed Everest almost every year, several times leading the first rope team to open the access route to the summit.
The Nepalese authorities have already issued 478 climbing permits to foreign mountaineers this year, bringing in 11,000 dollars (nearly 10,000 euros) per unit. It takes a budget of 45,000 to 200,000 dollars (41,000 to 184,000 euros) in total per ascent.
With most climbers accompanied by a guide, more than 900 people will attempt to reach the roof of the world this season, which lasts until early June, a record for this year.
“Some people are chasing records, but I’m not doing this for records,” Kami Rita Sherpa told AFP in March.
“I am thinking about what we can do for tourism in Nepal, to get more mountaineers to come here and how we can satisfy them and make them happy,” he said.
Nicknamed “the man of Everest”, he was born in 1970 in Thame, a village in the Himalayas, a breeding ground for experienced mountaineers.
He grew up in the Himalayan valley watching his father, then his brother, go on expeditions as mountain guides, before following in their footsteps.
“Not So Amazing”
In 2019, he reached the roof of the world twice in the space of six days.
Kami Rita Sherpa accompanied Chinh Chu, a Vietnamese billionaire who made his fortune in finance, on Wednesday, while Kenton Cool guided Richard Walker, executive chairman of the British supermarket chain Iceland Foods.
Kenton Cool, 49, first climbed Everest in 2004 and his 16th ascent last year set him the only record for the most peaks by a non-Nepalese climber, but is said to be “surprised” by the attention he is getting.
“In reality, it’s not that surprising,” he told AFP, recalling that many Nepalese guides had summited Everest many times before him.
The mountaineering industry in the Himalayas relies on the experience of Sherpas, usually from the valleys of Everest.
They pay a heavy price to accompany hundreds of adventurers each year on the “Roof of the world”. A third of the dead on Everest are Nepali climbers.