Apa Sherpa climbs Everest for the 19th time (With Image)

May 21st, 2009 - 3:19 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 21 (IANS) A poor yak herder’s son who became a porter at the age of 12 to feed his family Thursday re-established his image as the greatest living Everest legend, conquering the world’s highest peak for an incredible 19th time.

Apa Sherpa, who in the 1980s attempted to climb Mt Everest to eke out a living, this year led the Eco Everest Expedition 2009 to draw attention to the perils of climate changes in the Himalayas, causing glaciers to melt and imperilling the lives of the people living in high altitudes.

At 8 a.m. local time, the 49-year-old wiry and ever-smiling Apa clambered atop the 8848m peak where he unfurled a banner that said, “Stop climate change, let the Himalayas live”.

Then the devout Buddhist reverentially placed on the summit a bumpa (a sacred vase) that had been blessed by a Buddhist abbot and containing 400 different sacred ingredients to ask the gods to save the sacred valleys from the negative impacts of rapid environmental changes.

This is Apa’s eighth ascent of the Everest in eight consecutive years. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, he climbed the peak first in 1990 and began to build up his astonishing record.

In 2003, when the world celebrated the golden jubilee of the first Everest climb by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, Apa said he would hang up his boots. However, the need to secure good education for his children has been driving him back to the mountains.

Though Nepal’s best known climber, Apa migrated to the US in search of a better future and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He may return to his beloved Himalayas in the autumn as part of a Swiss documentary team.

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