Sherpa climber Kami Rita reached the top of Mount Everest on Wednesday for a 23rd time. By doing so, he broke his own record for the most successful climbs of the world’s highest summit.
Rita reached the summit with other climbers and all of them were reported to be safe, said a Nepalese official at the mountain’s base camp.
Two other climbers have reached the 8,850-meter high summit 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.
“It is my profession, but at the same time I am setting a new world record for Nepal, too,” the 49-year-old Rita told The Associated Press last month.
He first climbed Everest in 1994 and has been making the trip nearly every year since then.
Rita is one of many Sherpa guides whose expertise is necessary to the safety and success of the hundreds of climbers who seek to stand on top of the world.
His father was among the first Sherpa guides employed to help climbers reach the summit, and Rita followed in his footsteps. In addition to Mount Everest, Rita has climbed other mountains that are among the world’s highest. They include K-2, Cho-Oyu, Manaslu and Lhotse.
Rita was at Everest’s base camp in 2015 when a combination of rocks, ice and snow came down the side of the mountain. The avalanche killed 19 people. After that tragedy, he came under intense family pressure to stop mountain climbing, but in the end decided against it.
“I know Mount Everest very well, having climbed it 22 times, but at the same time I know I may or may not come back,” he told the AP last month. “I am like a soldier who leaves behind their wives, children and family to battle for the pride of the country.”
Sherpa guides and their work
Kami Rita has spoken up for other Sherpa guides, who he said do not get the recognition they have earned.
He said that before climbers reach the summit to take pictures announcing their success, there are months of hard work done by Sherpas. The Sherpas are the ones who take care of setting up the camps, carrying the loads on their backs, cooking food and carrying oxygen tanks.
Perhaps most importantly, it is Sherpas who each year fix ropes and supports over icefalls and holes that make things safer for the climbers who will follow them.
Sherpa tribespeople mostly cared for yak and worked as traders deep within the Himalayas until Nepal opened its borders in the 1950s. Their physical strength and knowledge of the mountains quickly made them sought-after guides. They also helped foreigners climb Everest.
On Tuesday, it was a team of Sherpa guides who again were the first to reach the summit this year, completing their work of setting up ropes and lines for other climbers.
There are 41 different teams with a total of 378 climbers who have been permitted to climb Everest during this year’s spring climbing season. There are an equal number of Nepalese guides helping them to get to the summit.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
George Grow adapted this story based on Associated Press news report. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
summit – n. the highest point; the top-most level
profession – n. an occupation
pride – n. self-respect; feeling satisfaction resulting from one’s actions
tank – n. a large container
yak – n. a long-haired animal native to the Himalayas
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