Super Sherpa climbs Everest for incredible 20th time

Kathmandu, May 22 (IANS) Legendary mountaineer Apa Sherpa, who became known as Super Sherpa after summiting Mt. Everest an incredible 19 times, broke his own enviable record Saturday and strode to the summit for the 20th ascent.

The 50-year-old, who had begun his climbing career in 1985 as a humble kitchen help, reached the 8,848m peak at 8.34 a.m. after starting out from the last camp at midnight, said Asian Trekking, the Kathmandu-based agency handling the logistics of the climb.

Apa was leading Eco Everest Expedition 2010, an initiative started three years ago by Asian Trekking to clear the accumulating garbage left on Mt. Everest during earlier expeditions.

He also had a historic mandate: to find a resting place for the last remains of another Everest legend, Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand, who passed away two years ago.

After Hillary’s cremation in New Zealand, part of his ashes were scattered in the Auckland bay while part of it was kept in safe custody by the Sherpas to find a fitting resting place.

Initially, Apa was asked to scatter the ashes on the summit of Sir Edmund’s beloved mountain. Later, he was asked to take it to a monastery nestled among the Himalayan ranges where Buddhist priests promised to built a memorial.

Apa’s first Everest journey came in 1990 after four failed attempts. During his debut Everest ascent in 1990, his team members included Sir Edmund’s son Peter Hillary.

Since then, he has been summiting the mountain with clockwork regularity.

Despite his fame, the soft-spoken modest Apa was forced to immigrate to the US in search of a better future for his children.

Apa told IANS that he had been risking his life to give his son and daughter a better education. He did not want them to follow in his own hazardous footsteps.