She wanted to ” to show the younger generations that women can do it,” Lhakpa Sherpa wrote on Facebook in February when she announced that she wanted to climb the world’s two highest mountains in 2022. Last year, she had not yet been able to financially lift this project. Now Lhakpa has achieved part one: the 48-year-old Nepalese climber reached the summit of Mount Everest at 8,849 meters for the tenth time today – with bottled oxygen. Even before that, she was the woman with the most Everest summit successes worldwide.
Eight times via the north side
It was Lhakpa’s second ascent from Nepal’s south side, and in a sense a return to her Everest roots: In 2000, the then 26-year-old had celebrated her first summit success on the world’s highest mountain as leader of a Nepalese women’s expedition. At that time, Lhakpa made history: she was the first woman from Nepal to climb Everest and return alive. The first Nepalese woman on the summit, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, had died on the descent in 1993. Between 2001 and 2018, eight more summit successes followed by Lhakpa via the Tibetan north side of the mountain.
Job in the supermarket
The single mother of a son and two daughters lives in Hartford in the U.S. state of Connecticut, where she earns her money in an organic supermarket. In 2018, she founded “Cloudscape Climbing“, her own expedition and trekking agency, but so far it hasn’t made enough money for her to give up her job at the supermarket. Next summer, Lhakpa also wants to climb K2 in Pakistan. In 2010, she had tried in vain to climb the second highest mountain on earth. Above Camp 3 at 7,200 meters was the end of the line – because of too bad weather. “I will accomplish it one day”, Lhakpa Sherpa wrote me last year.
Political messages in the backpack
Today, several dozen climbers from commercial teams – with bottled oxygen – reached the summit of Everest. Among them were reportedly seven members of the “Full Circle Everest” team, which consists entirely of black climbers. In their own words, they wanted to use their climb to “highlight the barriers that continue to exist for Black communities in accessing the outdoors” and inspire the next generation of mountaineering People of Color “to continue chasing their personal summits”.
Also carrying a political message in her backpack was Antonina Samoilova, who also stood on the roof of the world today. She is the only Ukrainian among the 317 foreign climbers to whom the Nepalese government issued Everest permits for this spring. The 33-year-old wanted to bring the Ukrainian flag to the highest of all mountains – “as one more reminder to the world that Ukraine is still fighting and we will fight until we win,” as Antonina announced on Instagram.
The third death of the spring season on Mount Everest has been reported: 32-year-old Nepalese mountain guide Dipak Mahat, who was flown out from Camp 2 at 6,400 meters on Tuesday due to high altitude sickness, died today in a hospital in Kathmandu. Last weekend, 55-year-old Russian climber Pavel Kostrikin had died in Camp 1 at around 6,100 meters – apparently also from altitude sickness. In April, 38-year-old Ngimi Tenji Sherpa had collapsed dead in the Khumbu Icefall.
Update 13 May: Again today, several dozen members of commercial teams reached the summit of Mount Everest, among them probably two of my former expedition leaders, Luis Stitzinger and Herbert Wolf – and Gerhard Osterbauer, who has regularly provided me with information from Everest over the past weeks. Congratulations to all!