Nepali climber Kami Rita Sherpa on Friday reached the summit of Mount Everest for the 25th time, breaking his own record for the most summits of the highest mountain in the world.
Sherpa was part of a 12-member team fixing the ropes to the summit, the first of hundreds of climbers expected to reach the top of Everest in coming weeks.
"Kami Rita has made a new record with his 25th summit," Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks, an expedition organiser, told AFP.
A guide for more than two decades, Sherpa first summited the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) peak in 1994 when working for a commercial expedition.
Since then, he has climbed Everest almost every year.
"It isn't about breaking records... My aim was to celebrate my silver jubilee by climbing 25 times in 2020 at the age of 50, but Covid didn't let that happen. So this year I will make my dream come true," Sherpa told AFP at the base camp before heading up.
The accomplished climber has also conquered other challenging 8,000-metre peaks including the world's second-highest mountain, K2 in Pakistan.
"I climb for my nation. Guides like us are necessary for the tourism sector of Nepal. Without us, foreigners wouldn't come," he said.
In 2019, he ascended Everest twice, breaking and making records each time.
But this time Sherpa climbed a slightly higher Everest after Nepal and China revised its height to 8,848.86 metres (29,031 feet) last year-- 86 centimetres (2.8 feet) higher than the measurement previously recognised by Nepal.
Sherpa plans for a double summit this year too, and will guide up a royal Bahrain team to the summit.
Nepal's tourism industry suffered a devastating blow last year when the pandemic prompted a complete shutdown of its summits, costing millions in lost revenue.
This season it has issued a record 408 permits costing $11,000 each.
Most Everest hopefuls are escorted by a Nepali guide, meaning more than 800 climbers will tread the same path to the top in the coming weeks.
But cases of covid-19 among climbers have raised fears that the virus may ruin a hoped-for bumper season on the world's highest mountain.
FROM THE ARCHIVES