Nepal's 'Super Sherpas', the real kings on Everest
May 16, 2007 - 12:51:08 PM

Kathmandu, May 16 - Mountaineering legend Apa Sherpa Wednesday consolidated his record of summiting the 8,848-metre Mt Everest 17 times as part of a unique 'Super Sherpa Expedition' designed to highlight the role of the intrepid Sherpa community in mountaineering.

The feat was made with his partner 'Everest Express' Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa conquering the peak for the 13th time. Lhakpa in 2003 set the record for the fastest ascent, reaching the top in 10 hours 56 minutes 45 seconds.

Between Apa and Lhakpa, they have now tamed the world's most majestic mountain an incredible 30 times!

Five other high-altitude worker Sherpas also summited the peak at 8.44 a.m. Nepal time with the magic duo, dubbed 'Super Sherpas'. The pair came together in the Super Sherpa Expedition for a personal reason.

Climbers have been trying to conquer Mt Everest for nearly 80 years now and most of the summits would not have been possible but for the support given by the Sherpas, the high-altitude guides and porters of Tibetan ancestry who risk their lives so that others can summit.

Only Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, who made the first ascent in 1953 with New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary, received some recognition for his achievement.

Apa and Lhakpa, both of whom had earlier talked of hanging up their boots, returned to the Everest this season to help train the arc light on the unsung heroes of mountaineering.

'Sherpas are guide, teacher and lifeline rolled into one,' the expedition web site says. 'Without them any expedition to Everest would be doomed. Fifty years after the first ascent, Everest is still the domain of the Sherpas.'

The record climb will pave the way for a book and documentary.

It will also hopefully provide researchers with light-throwing data about the physiology of the Sherpas that helps them survive high-altitude sickness, frostbite and massive brain swelling, which are likely to kill other climbers.

Researchers will examine physiological, nutritional and exercise parameters to help determine the unique characteristics that enable these high altitude athletes perform their extraordinary achievements.

Both the climbers say they have been climbing all their lives repeatedly on Mt Everest to fight a greater foe: poverty.

Lack of opportunities in Nepal forced both heroes to migrate to the US where they want their children to receive the education they themselves could not have.

The story has remained the same for all Sherpas down the ages.

Tenzing Norgay, the first 'Super Sherpa', too risked his life to provide a good education for his children so that they would not have to take the same risks that he did.

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