Lapka Sherpa / AFP via Getty Images
Nepali mountaineer Kami Rita Sherpa made history Saturday after summiting Mount Everest for the 26th time. Sherpa was already a world record holder, having broken the record for summiting Everest five times in four years.
On Saturday, the 52-year-old mountain guide broke the previous world record of 25 ascents of the world’s tallest mountain, which he set last May.
Kami Rita has set and broken the world record for Everest ascents almost every spring for the past four years.
With more than 35 years of mountaineering experience, Kami Rita is a world-renowned climber. He first set the record for Everest summits at 22 in May 2018, after having shared the 21-summit record with two other climbers.
He broke that the following year when he conquered Everest a 23rd time on May 15, 2019, according to Guinness World Records. Kami Rita broke his own record six days later with his 24th summit.
Niranjan Shrestha / AP
It’s possible that Kami Rita could have achieved an even higher summit count by now had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic. Nepal and China canceled the 2020 climbing season. When Everest reopened the following year, Kami Rita broke his record once again, with his 25th successful summit.
Kami Rita didn’t make it to the top on his first attempt in 1992, he told Guinness. He did, however, finish the climb two years later.
Kami Rita’s life has been tied to the mountain since he was a child. His father, Mingma Tshering Sherpa, was one of the first professional guides on Everest when Nepal began allowing international climbers in 1950. And Kami Rita had worked as a porter transporting gear to Everest’s base camp since he was 12.
Mount Everest is part of the Himalayan Mountain Range in Central Asia’s Tibetan Plateau, nicknamed the “Roof of the World.” Everest reaches to about 29,032 feet above sea level, though that number can change.
The first people on record to conquer the mountain were New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary and his Nepali partner Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Several thousand have now summited Everest in the nearly 70 years since. The mountain has also claimed the lives of over 300 adventure seekers.
The same day Kami Rita broke his record, Russian climber Pavel Kostrikin died at Camp I Saturday night, The Kathmandu Post reported, marking the second death of the season.