Sherpa breaks record for Everest ascent by two hours
KATHMANDU (AFP) - A Nepalese Sherpa has broken the record for the fastest ascent of Mount Everest (news - web sites) by more than two hours, reaching the summit eight hours and 10 minutes after leaving base camp.
Pemba Dorji Sherpa, 26, reached the world's highest peak at 2:10 am Friday local time after leaving base camp at 6:00 pm the previous evening, Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said in a statement Friday.
The time, achieved with the help of bottled oxygen, breaks the record of 10 hours 46 minutes set by 36-year-old Lakpa Gelu Sherpa in May 2003.
It was Pemba's second ascent in five days, having climbed Everest on Sunday with Swiss climber Ruppert Heider without bottled oxygen.
The two Sherpas have been vying with each other to be quickest up the mountain, with Pemba setting a record of 12 hours 46 minutes on May 23 last year.
However, just three days later Lakpa, powered only by fruit juice, sprinted to the top to set the new record.
Pemba sportingly congratulated Lakpa, but warned the record would not last for long.
With May the only month when the fastest routes are passable, the younger Sherpa has had to wait almost a full year to regain his crown. In March, he vowed to beat Lakpa's time at a press conference in Kathmandu.
According to Ang Tshering, Pemba had made it back to base camp in "high spirit and in a good health" mid-morning Friday.
"Pemba reached the summit with the help of bottled oxygen," he said in a statement.
"It is a great pride for the Nepalese and Nepalese mountain climbers that a young enthusiastic climber set a new record on speed climbing on Everest."
He added that a Nepalese woman climber, Lhakpa Sherpa, had on Wednesday climbed Mount Everest for the fourth time from the Tibetan route, becoming the first woman to climb the mountain more than three times.
The record for ascending the world's tallest peak, known in Nepal as Sagarmatha and in Tibet as Chomolungma, has been steadily chipped away thanks to the speedsters using ropes and ladders put in place by other teams.
It took Sir Edmund Hillary and his climbing partner, the late Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, more than seven weeks from base camp to the summit when they became the first men to stand at the top of the world on May 29, 1953.
During 50th anniversary celebrations of that historic moment last year, Hillary pointed out that he and Tenzing had had to forge their own route through the tricky Khumbu Icefall and further up the mountain without the benefit of modern equipment, or of ropes and ladders already fixed in place.
"We had to do everything ourselves," said Hillary, clearly unimpressed by the new trends on Everest.
[Edited on 21-5-2004 by rassel]