Asian Life & Times - SALT
Sherpas – the Super Climbers
indigenous home lies just beneath Mount Everest, an area of 425 square miles
known as the Khumbu valley. Known for their strength, endurance, competence,
endearing smile – and most of all for their reputation as great
high-altitude climbers, Sherpas are the mountain guides from India and Nepal
who have led summiteers to the top of the Everest and other high peaks.
Seldom in limelight, they are the people who enable others to capture
headlines. Without them, not many would have made it to the top of the
seldom focused on Sherpas - yet there are among them many who are a class
apart, who hold world records that few can dream of breaking. Apa Sherpa
holds the record of 21 Everest ascents. Messner made headlines when he
climbed Everest without oxygen in 1978. Ang Rita Sherpa has climbed Everest
10 times without oxygen and he is also the only person to have climbed the
Everest without oxygen in winter. Babu Chhiri Sherpa- the Nepalese
mountaineer and 10 times Everest summiteer set two Everest records - one for
scaling Mount Everest in the fastest recorded time (17 hours, but
subsequently broken by another Sherpa), and the other for spending 21 hours
at the summit – the longest stay atop the peak without oxygen. Babu died in
April 2001 when he fell into a snow crevasse. His last desire was to build a
school in his native village in Nepal.
20, 2011, just before the monsoon season rolled in, Mingma Sherpa, the
33-year-old from Nepal, became the first South Asian to scale all 14 of the
world's highest mountains -
an outstanding achievement and a milestone
in South Asian mountaineering history. In the process, Mingma set a world
first – he climbed all 14 peaks on first attempts! The elite 8000er club is
an exclusive group of 28 mountaineers who have accomplished the rare feat of
climbing all 14 peaks above 8000m – and Mingma was the 24th person to do so
– just before his 33rd birthday in June, when he stood atop Kangchenjunga,
the third highest mountain on earth – and the last of his 14 peaks.
More people have landed on the moon than
have achieved or equalled Mingma’s Grand Slam of Mountaineering.
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