“I can do it 25 times”
Kami Rita Sherpa (pictured above) broke the previous record by climbing Mt Everest for the 22nd time this week.
“The country needs the record, but not the man who makes the record,” Kami Rita Sherpa said on 28 March in Kathmandu before he set off to climb Mt Everest.
True to his word, the 48-year-old from Thame village of Solukhumbu summitted the world’s highest mountain for the 22nd time on the morning of 16 May. And as the person who has climbed Mt Everest the most number of times, he has made international headlines.
Kami Rita is a guide at Seven Summit Treks, and had started climbing from Camp 5 with nine Chinese climbers on Tuesday night, and reached the top on Wednesday morning. Before this, Appa Sherpa and Phurba Tasi Sherpa had jointly held the world record, with an impressive 21 times each on top of Everest. Appa and Phurba Tasi have repeatedly said that they will probably not climb again.
Kami Rita is a humble man, and often said he was not hungry for fame. “Many Sherpas have made records. Ang Rita Sherpa made a world record by climbing Everest 10 times without oxygen. But what is the point of such records?” he asks.
However, Ang Chhiring Sherpa, former president of Nepal Mountaineers Association, says Kami Rita has made Nepal proud and he should be recognised.
“Now it is the country’s responsibility to figure out how to appreciate such a person,” said Ang Chirring Sherpa.
Kami Rita started mountaineering in 1992, and first summitted Mt Everest in 1998 as a guide. In 2009, 2010, and 2013, he climbed Mt Everest three times in a single season. His brother Lhakpa Rita Sherpa has also climbed Mt Everest 17 times.
Kami Rita, who had studied up to Grade 4 in Thame Primary School, lives in a rented apartment at Bouddha. His son studies in Class 12 while his daughter has just completed high school.
Worried about the safety of Sherpas who work in mountaineering, Kami Rita does not want his children to follow his footsteps. He says: “The government only cares about royalty from the mountains, it does not care about our future. We have to support our family from what we earn every season. Who will take care of our family if something happens to us?”
He says there may soon be no Sherpas willing to guide alpinists up the mountains. Meanwhile, Kami Rita continues to climb. His friends encourage him to get to the top for the 30th time. But he says: “I think I will make it 25 times.”