63°F
weather icon Clear

Nepal’s record-setting Everest guide returns as a hero

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Family, friends and supporters welcomed a veteran Sherpa guide upon his return to Nepal’s capital on Saturday, days after his 24th climb of Mount Everest extended his record.

After flying back from Everest to Kathmandu, Kami Rita was greeted by the waiting crowd at the airport. His wife hugged him and the crowd covered him with a cream-colored scarf and offered him yogurt.

The brief celebration at the airport parking area with traditional drums was followed by Rita riding on a truck waving to supporters as they drove out of the airport.

He told reporters he was very happy but exhausted.

Rita reached Everest’s 29,035-foot peak on Tuesday, the second time he had climbed to the summit in a week. He also reached the top of the world’s highest peak on May 15, then returned to base camp before climbing again this past week.

The climbs bring Rita, 49, closer to his target of 25 ascents of Everest before he retires from high mountain climbing. His two closest peers have climbed Everest 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.

There are 41 teams with a total of 378 climbers permitted to scale Everest during the spring climbing season. An equal number of Nepalese guides are helping them get to the summit.

About half a dozen climbers died this past week, most of them while descending from the summit during only a few windows of good weather each May. Most are believed to have suffered from altitude sickness, which is caused by low amounts of oxygen at high elevation and can cause headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion.

Among the latest fatalities was British climber Robin Haynes Fisher, 44.

Murari Sharma, managing director of Everest Parivar Expedition Pvt Ltd, said Fisher and his Sherpa guide reached the summit at around 8:30 .a.m. on Saturday and had descended 490 feet when he fell unconscious. A group of Sherpas changed his oxygen bottle and tried to give him some water but he could not be revived, he said.

Rita first scaled Everest in 1994 and has been making the trip nearly every year since.

His father was among the first Sherpa guides employed to help climbers reach the summit, and Rita followed in his footsteps and then some. In addition to his two dozen summits of Everest, Rita has scaled some of the other highest mountains, including K-2, Cho-Oyu, Manaslu and Lhotse.

Sherpa tribespeople were mostly yak herders and traders living deep within the Himalayas until Nepal opened its borders in the 1950s. Their stamina and familiarity with the mountains quickly made them sought-after guides and porters.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
House Democrats move to lower drug prices

House Democrats unveiled a bill to control the costs of prescription drugs, but Republicans criticized it as the first step in nationalizing the pharmaceutical industry.

Gun negotiations going ‘very slowly’ says Trump

President Donald Trump is pouring cold water on prospects for a bipartisan compromise on gun legislation, even as his aides circulate a draft plan on Capitol Hill.

Both sides seek unity after vote shows deep Israeli divisions

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival, Benny Gantz, on Thursday each called for the formation of a unity government following Israel’s inconclusive national election. But with both men demanding to be prime minister, there were no signs they could break the deadlock.

Canada’s Trudeau tries to contain furor over brownface photo from 2001

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign moved to contain a growing furor Thursday after a yearbook photo surfaced of him in brownface at a 2001 “Arabian Nights” costume party and two other similar incidents came to light.

Whistleblower complaint may involve Trump, says House intel chairman

President Donald Trump’s director of national intelligence is refusing to turn over to Congress an urgent whistleblower complaint that reportedly concerns Trump making an unspecified promise to a foreign leader, the chairman of the House intelligence committee said Thursday.

Imelda draws comparisons to Harvey; 1K plus rescued overnight

The remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda unleashed torrential rain Thursday in parts of Texas, prompting hundreds of water rescues, a hospital evacuation and road closures as the powerful storm system drew comparisons to Hurricane Harvey two years ago.

Suicide bomb at Afghanistan hospital kills 20, says governor

A powerful suicide truck bomb devastated a hospital in southern Afghanistan early Thursday morning, killing 20 people and wounding 97 others, according to the province’s governor, while a deadly drone strike in the country’s east was blamed on U.S. forces.