Nepali, British climbers extend Everest records

Kami Rita Sherpa reached the top of Mount Everest for the 29th time Sunday, breaking his own record for the most summits of the world's highest mountain (NISHA BHANDARI)
Kami Rita Sherpa reached the top of Mount Everest for the 29th time Sunday, breaking his own record for the most summits of the world's highest mountain (NISHA BHANDARI)

Mount Everest saw a record-breaking day Sunday as Nepali climber Kami Rita Sherpa and Briton Kenton Cool reached the top of the world's highest mountain, extending their records for the most summits by a Nepali and a foreigner.

Sherpa, 54, reached the peak for the 29th time and Cool, 50, made his 18th summit.

"Kami Rita and Kenton Cool both reached the summit today, making records," Rakesh Gurung of Nepal's tourism department told AFP.

A guide for more than two decades, Sherpa, also known as "Everest Man", first summited the 8,849-metre (29,032-foot) peak in 1994 when working for a commercial expedition.

He has since climbed Everest almost every year, guiding clients. It was not immediately clear whether he had a client with him on Sunday.

"Back again for the 29th summit to the top of the world... One man's job, another man/woman's dream," Sherpa posted on his Instagram account from base camp last week.

Sherpa climbed Everest twice last year to reclaim his record after another guide, Pasang Dawa Sherpa, equalled his number of ascents.

Kami Rita Sherpa has previously said that he has been "just working" and did not plan on setting records.

He has also conquered other challenging 8,000-metre peaks including the world's second-highest mountain, K2 in Pakistan.

- 'Not that amazing' -

Cool, also a guide, was once told he would not walk unaided again after a rock-climbing accident in 1996 that broke both his heel bones, but his mountaineering career has confounded predictions.

He told AFP in a 2022 interview after his 16th ascent that his Everest record was "not that amazing" in the context of Nepali climbers' achievements.

"I'm really surprised by the interest... considering that so many of the Sherpas have so many more ascents," he said then.

Nepal has issued 414 Everest permits to mountaineers for this year's spring climbing season, which runs from April to early June.

Most Everest hopefuls are escorted by a Nepali guide, meaning more than 800 climbers will tread the path to the top of the world's highest peak in the coming weeks after a group of Nepali climbers opened the route to the summit on Friday.

China also reopened the Tibetan route to foreigners this year for the first time since closing it in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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.

A climbing boom has made mountaineering a lucrative business since Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent in 1953.

More than 600 climbers made it to the summit of Everest last year but it was also the deadliest season on the mountain, with 18 fatalities.

pm/slb/pbt