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Mount Everest: Nepali sherpa sets record with 27th climb

May 17, 2023

Kami Rita Sherpa has scaled the summit of the world's highest mountain almost every year since 1994. On the same day, however, a Moldovan climber became the fifth fatality on Everest this year.

Kami Rita Sherpa smiles at the camera and waves the Nepali flag.
Nepal's Kami Rita Sherpa sets Everest record with 27 summitsImage: Navesh Chitrakar/REUTERS

Nepali climber Kami Rita Sherpa scaled Mount Everest for the 27th time on Wednesday.

It means he has reclaimed his own world record for the most summits of the world's highest peak.

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

On Sunday another climber Pasang Dawa Sherpa had tied the record when he reached the top for the 26th time.

Kami Rita Sherpa and Mount Everest

The 53-year old has been working as a guide for over two decades. Growing up he watched his father and brother don the climbing gear to join expeditions as mountain guides.

He climbed Everest for the first time in 1994 while working for a commercial expedition.

Dubbed the "Everest man," he scaled the peak almost every year since then, except in 2014, 2015 and 2020 when climbing was halted for various reasons.

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

He first broke the world record in 2018 when he ascended Everst for the 22nd time.

 "These records were made not with an intention to make them but during my work as a guide," Rita said as he headed to base camp.


Pasang Dawa Sherpa holds two plants and looks into the camera.
Pasang Dawa Sherpa tied the record when he reached the top for the 26th time this week. Image: Aryan Dhimal/Zuma/picture alliance

Kenton Cool — The non-Nepali record holder

Earlier on Wednesday, British mountain guide Kenton Cool reached the peak for the 17th time and extended his own record for the most summits by a non-Nepali.

The 49-year-old climbed the mountain for the first time in 2004 and his 16th climb last year gave him the record for most summits by a non-Nepali.

He said that he was "surprised" by the attention.

"In reality, it's not that amazing," he said, pointing out that many sherpa guides had stood on the peak more often than him.

Sherpas — the backbone of Nepal's climbing economy 

Nepal is home to eight of the world's 10 highest peaks and welcomes hundreds of adventurers each spring.

Climbing contributed to $5.8 million (€ 5.3 million) to state coffers in 2023 — $5 million of which comes from Mount Everest alone, according to government data.

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

This year, authorities issued 478 permits to foreign climbers, the most ever, for people to climb Everest.

Record number of climbers set to ascend Mount Everest

Dangers of the Everest

A Moldovan climber died while hiking up to the Everest peak on Wednesday said Nepali officials. 

It took the number of fatalities on the mountain this year to five — following the deaths of three Nepalis and a US mountaineer.

The Himalayan nation has been criticized for allowing too many climbers, many of whom are inexperienced, to try and scale Everest.

Dangerous overcrowding, especially at a bottleneck called the Hillary Step, just below the summit, happens very often.

In 2019, nine exhausted climbers died at the congested spot while waiting in a queue. So far, 320 people have died while hiking on the mountain, said officials.

Why are so many people dying on Everest?

ns/rt (AFP, Reuters)