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Sherpa scales Mount Everest 16th time

Sherpa scales Mount Everest 16th time

Forty six year old Sherpa Appa has scaled the Mount Everest for the 16th time, breaking his own record.

Kathmandu: A Sherpa has guide scaled Mount Everest for a record 16th time, breaking his own previous record, a Nepalese mountaineering official said.

Appa, who like most Sherpas uses only one name, reached the 8,850 meter (29,035 feet) peak while guiding a group of international climbers, said Rajendra Pandey, an official at the Mountaineering Department.

Appa, reached the summit at around 11 am local time (0515 GMT) and was returning to the lower camps, the official said, quoting reports from the base camp.

The modest and thin built 46-year-old Sherpa guide is one of the most respected climbers in the mountaineering community.

He has tried to retire twice but has been persuaded by friends and clients to continue climbing.

He says his wife does not like to see him risk his life, but the family depends on the once-a-year climb, in which he earns about US$1,500.

Several other climbers also scaled Everest on Friday, but officials were still waiting for details.

Improved weather conditions on the mountain allowed at least 42 climbers to scale the world's highest peak from the Nepalese side on Thursday and about 15 a day earlier.

Teams using the popular south route to the peak had been holed up for days at base camp because of heavy snow and high winds.

Climbers on the northern side in Tibet, meanwhile, have experienced better conditions and were able to begin summit attempts earlier.

Like most Sherpas, Appa grew up in the foothills of Everest, and began carrying equipment and supplies for trekkers and mountaineers at an early age.

Appa first climbed Everest in 1989 with a New Zealand team led by experienced climber Rob Hall, one of eight mountaineers who died during a storm in 1996 when approaching the summit.

Sherpas were mostly yak herders and traders living in the Himalayas until Nepal opened its borders to tourism in 1950. Their stamina and knowledge of the mountains makes them expert guides and porters for foreign mountaineers.

May is the best time for climbing the world's tallest peak, and the climbing season traditionally ends May 31.

Since New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953, more than 1,400 climbers have scaled the peak. About 180 people have died trying.

first published:May 20, 2006, 18:44 IST