Sherpa goes for 20th Everest summit, takes Edmund Hillary along

One of the mountaineers who has already arrived in Kathmandu ahead of the Himalayan climbing season is the legendary Apa Sherpa, who holds the record for the most successful summits of the mountain at 19. When the climber announced his plans to return to the Himalaya he made it clear that he intended to break his own record, and claim his 20th summit, while also promoting his Apa Sherpa Foundation. What he didn’t mention was that he had another reason to reach the top of the highest mountain on Earth once again, as he now plans to take the remains of Sir Edmund Hillary to the summit with him.

Hillary, and his climbing partner Tenzing Norgay, rocketed to international fame back in 1953, when they became the first men to stand on the summit of Everest, which stands at 29,035 feet. in the years that followed, Hillary would return often to Nepal, eventually launching a foundation of his own that would build schools and medical clinics for the Napali people that he came to know and love. Through his charitable works, the lives of many people in Nepal were changed forever, and as a result, Hillary was often looked upon as a grandfatherly figure amongst the citizens of that country.

When he passed away at the ripe old age of 88 back in 2008, Hillary’s remains were cremated, and most of the ashes were spread out over the ocean off the coast of his native New Zealand. But one of his dying wishes was to see the summit of Everest one last time. In a press conference held in Kathmandu yesterday, Apa announced that he will fulfill that wish, taking the last of Sir Ed’s remains with him to the top of the mountain later this spring. He also says that he’ll take along a statue of the Buddha and say a prayer for Hillary’s while he is there.

While that mission should be enough of a challenge for Apa, he has other plans as well. He and the rest of the Eco-Everest Expedition will once again be scouring the mountain, bringing down tons of garbage. Last year, the team cleaned up more than 13,000 pounds of trash from the mountain, and this year they’ve set their sights even higher, going for 15,400 pounds. Their efforts are to ensure that the place stays clean and accessible for generations to come.