By Binaj Gurubacharya The Associated Press
KATHMANDU, Nepal — A veteran Sherpa guide scaled Mount Everest on Wednesday for the 22nd time, setting the record for most climbs of the world’s highest mountain, officials said.
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.
The 48-year-old was among the three men ‚Äî all Nepalese Sherpa guides ‚Äî who had tied the previous record of 21 successful ascents of the 8,850-meter (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.
The other two summit record-holders are also Sherpas.
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 organize expeditions.
Dozens of climbers were expected to scale the top on 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 several of their local guides are attempting to climb Everest this month.