Legendary mountain guide Apa Sherpa successfully reached the summit of Mt. Everest yesterday, extending his own record for the person who has accomplished that feat the most often. For Apa, this was his 21st time standing on top of the world’s highest mountain.
The Nepali native, who now makes his home in Utah, reached the top of the 29,029-foot mountain at 9:15 AM local time yesterday morning. He was joined by six other climbers, who took advantage of good weather conditions to top out on Everest. The team began the ascent earlier in the week in hopes of completing their climb before the crowds of other commercial climbers start heading to the top. “Summit Day” for those teams is expected to take place today and tomorrow, with a string of other climbers delaying their start into next week.
With the summit out of the way, Apa and his team will now turn towards their other mission – cleaning up the mountain. For the past four years, he has climbed as part of the Eco-Everest Expedition, a team of high altitude Sherpas who not only lead paying clients up the mountain, but also work to protect the environment there as well. Apa and the other members of this crew have quite literally taken tons of trash, left behind by other expeditions, off of Everest, where it can be disposed of properly. These Sherpas also work as educators, spreading the word about the impact of climate change on Everest and the effect it has on the surrounding countryside.
For most mountaineers, standing on top of Everest even once is a dream come true. For Apa, it is just another climb. After 21 successful trips to the top, it is difficult to say when he’ll call it quits and hang up his crampons for good, but for now, he seems to still be enjoying the challenge, while still doing positive work for his home country.
[Photo courtesy Asian Trekking]