Kathmandu (AFP) – Eleven Nepalese climbers reached the summit of Everest on Saturday, the first of hundreds who are expected to climb the world’s tallest mountain from its southern approach in the coming weeks.
Among them was Kami Rita Sherpa, who extended her own record as the person with the most Everest peaks.
The team reached the summit as part of an expedition to repair the ropes leading to the ascent, setting the route for foreign climbers.
“We have received information that the rope team of eleven climbers reached the summit around 6:55 p.m. Nepal time,” tourism department official Bhisma Raj Bhattarai told AFP.
Nepal has issued 316 permits to climbers for this year’s spring climbing season, which runs from mid-April to late May.
Most Everest hopefuls are each escorted by a Nepalese guide, meaning more than 600 climbers will be taking the same route to the 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) summit in the coming weeks.
“Now that the route is open for other climbers to reach the summit of Everest, we will see teams ascending in the days to come,” said Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks, who led the rope-fixing team.
Mingma Sherpa added that Kami Rita Sherpa “has reached the summit for the 26th time, setting a new record.”
His record 25th ascent also came while leading rope access technicians on Everest last year.
“Some people chase records, but I didn’t do this for records,” Kami Rita Sherpa said in an interview with AFP in March, before setting off for Everest.
“I am thinking about how we can increase tourism in Nepal, what can we do to get more climbers to come here and how can we satisfy them and make them happy.”
The 52-year-old followed in his father’s footsteps and became a mountain guide, reaching the summit for the first time in 1994.
He has climbed Everest almost every year since.
A Chinese expedition reached the summit of Everest from its northern side in Tibet on Wednesday, according to Chinese state broadcaster CGTN.
Although China continues to ban foreign climbers due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nepal reopened its peaks to climbers last year.
With Covid-19 cases dwindling, expedition operators in Nepal are hoping for a busier climbing season this year.
There has already been one fatality this season: A Nepalese mountaineer carrying equipment uphill was found dead last month.
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