Associated Press 91d

Sherpa guides scale Everest, setting records

Olympic Sports, Endurance

KATHMANDU, Nepal -- A veteran Sherpa guide scaled Mount Everest on Wednesday for the 22nd time, setting a record for the most climbs of the world's highest mountain, and a female Sherpa made it to the summit for the ninth time, breaking her own record for the most climbs by a woman.

Kami Rita reached the summit on Wednesday morning with a team of foreign climbers and a fellow Sherpa guide and was already safely descending to a lower camp by the afternoon, said Gyanendra Shrestha, a government official stationed at the base camp.

Kami Rita, 48, was among three men -- all Nepalese Sherpa guides -- who had tied the previous record of 21 successful ascents of the 29,035-foot peak.

Before leaving for the mountain last month, Kami Rita told The Associated Press that he wanted to scale Everest at least 25 times.

Mountaineering has been his family tradition. His father was among the first professional guides after Nepal opened to foreign trekkers and mountaineers in 1950. His brother has scaled Everest 17 times. Most of his male relatives have reached the top least once.

Kami Rita first scaled Everest at age 24, and has made the trip almost every year since then. He has also climbed many of the region's other high peaks, including K-2, Cho-Oyu, Manaslu and Lhotse. In the autumn, he guides clients to smaller peaks in Nepal.

Both of the other previous record holders are retired from climbing.

Apa, a 58-year-old guide who uses only one name, retired in 2011 and moved to Utah. Phurba Tashi, 47, retired from high-altitude climbing in 2013 but still works at Everest's Base Camp, helping to organize expeditions.

From the Chinese side of the mountain, Lhakpa Sherpa, 44, also reached the summit Wednesday for a ninth time, extending her own women's record.

Rajeev Shrestha of the Seven Summit Adventure agency in Kathmandu said he received a message from the base camp about the successful climb. Lhakpa Sherpa was making her way down to the advanced base camp, he said.

Dozens of climbers were expected to reach the top Wednesday, taking advantage of the good weather on the mountain, according to Shrestha.

The route to the summit was opened up by a team of Sherpa guides earlier this week.

More than 340 foreign climbers along with their local guides are attempting to climb Everest this month.

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