Wed, 22 May 2019

A Nepalese Sherpa climber Kami Rita has scaled Mount Everest for a 23rd time, breaking his own record for the most successful ascents of the world's highest peak.

Rita, a native of Thame village located in the shadow of Mount Everest, reached the 8 850m summit with other climbers via the Southeast Ridge route on Wednesday morning, tourism department official Mira Acharya said from the base camp.

His latest ascent took him two summits clear of two fellow Sherpas, who have successfully climbed the peak 21 times, hiking officials said.

Acharya said Rita, who goes by his first name Kami, reached the top at 07:50 (02:05 GMT) and is now descending to lower camps.

She said about 30 other climbers were on the way to the summit and were expected to top the peak on Wednesday or Thursday, when the weather window is expected to remain open.

Rita says he will try and climb the peak two more times.

"I am still strong and want to climb Sagarmatha 25 times," Kami had told Reuters news agency before leaving for the mountain in March referring to the Nepali name for Everest.

'Like a soldier''

Rita, 49, first scaled Everest in 1994 and has been making the trip nearly every year since, one of many Sherpa guides whose expertise and skills are vital to the safety and success of the hundreds of climbers who head to Nepal each year seeking 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 and then some.

In addition to his nearly two dozen summits of Everest, Rita has scaled several other peaks that are among the world's highest, including K-2, Cho-Oyu, Manaslu and Lhotse.

Rita was at Everest's base camp in 2015 when an avalanche swept through, killing 19 people. After that tragedy, he came under intense family pressure to quit mountaineering altogether, 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 Associated Press last month.

"I am like a soldier who leaves behind their wives, children and family to battle for the pride of the country."

Nearly 5 000 climbers have scaled the peak since the pioneering ascent, many multiple times.

The climbing season ends in May and hundreds of climbers are currently on Everest, trying to reach the top from both the Nepali and Tibetan sides of the mountain.

Tourism, which includes mountain climbing, is a main source of income for cash-strapped Nepal, home to eight of the world's 14 highest mountains.

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