Legendary Himalayan mountain guide Apa Sherpa has returned to his home country of Nepal once again this year, where he’ll be attempting his 21st summit of Mt. Everest. If successful, he will extend his existing record as the man to accomplish that feat most often.
Apa, who now lives in Utah, left his friends and family last Friday, and set off for the Nepali capital of Kathmandu. That city serves as the gateway to the Himalaya, and most mountaineering expeditions to the region begin and end there. Apa says that he knows that climbing the tallest mountain on the planet is risky, but he feels compelled to go back once again in an effort to help his homeland. The mountain guide’s Apa Sherpa Foundation raises funds to improve educational facilities of children living in the Himalaya.
The beginning of April traditionally marks the beginning of the spring climbing season in Nepal, Tibet, and other Himalayan countries. Over the past week, climbers and trekkers have been arriving in Kathmandu and setting out for Everest, Annapurna, and a dozen other high peaks. Climbing these giant mountains is no simple affair, and most will spend six to eight weeks attempting to reach the summit of their choice.
For Apa, this is all old hat. He has been making the journey to Everest every year since the late 1980’s, achieving his first successful summit in 1990. For the past three years, he has been a part of the Eco Everest Team, which is made up of a group of very experienced Sherpas who work together to clean up trash from the mountain. The team has been directly responsible for removing tons of discarded gear, empty oxygen bottles, and other waste products from the slopes of Everest.
If all goes as planned, Apa should be making his record-breaking 21st summit bid sometime in mid-May.