The weather window on Mount Everest is still a little bit open, but stronger winds are expected from Friday onwards. Another 30 climbers took the chance today and reached the highest point on earth at 8,850 meters. Among them was the 45-year-old Brit Kenton Cool, who scaled Mount Everest for the 14th time. A whole continent celebrates Saray Khumalo. The 47-year-old South African was the first black woman from Africa to stand on the roof of the world today. The businesswoman, who works for a major financial services group in Johannesburg, has been climbing mountains only for seven years.
“Dream the impossible dream”
“My dream is to go higher and go further for as long as I breathe. To pave a way for my children and other ordinary people, so we may realise and accept that ordinary people like us can achieve extraordinary heights,” writes the mother of two sons on her homepage. “To not think too much about the difficulties on the way but keep focused on the end goal and to take their hand, motivate them to realise that they too may dream the impossible dream.”
Success in the fourth attempt
Khumalo has set herself the goal of climbing the Seven Summits, the highest mountains of all continents. She has already scaled four of these summits: Kilimanjaro in 2012 (Africa, 5,895 m), Elbrus in 2014 (Europe, 5,642 m), Aconcagua in 2015 (South America, 6,962 m) and now Mount Everest (Asia, 8850 metres). Khumalo had already tried in vain climbing Everest three times before. Twice she returned home empty-handed because the seasons ended prematurely: in 2014 after the avalanche accident in the Khumbu Icefall with 16 deaths and in 2015 after the devastating earthquake in Nepal.
During her summit attempt in spring 2017, Khumalo suffered frostbite on her hands in windy weather. At about 8,700 meters, near the South Summit, Saray and her Sherpa turned back. The South African lost consciousness just at the South Col, but could be led further down the following day. From Camp 2 at 6,400 meters she was picked up by a rescue helicopter and flown to a hospital in Kathmandu.
Khumalo always combines her expeditions with social projects. This time during her Everest expedition she collects donations i.a. for a South African foundation that takes care of the education of orphans.
More summit successes on Lhotse
Reportedly without bottled oxygen (at least that’s what they had planned) the two Spaniards Sergi Mingote and Carlos Garranzo, the Brazilian Moeses Fiamoncini and the Chilean Juan Pablo Mohr reached the 8,516-meter-high summit of Lhotse today. Muhammad Ali “Sadpara”, Pakistan’s most famous mountaineer at the moment, also stood at the top with them. Last year, Mingote had scaled three eight-thousanders without breathing mask: K2, Broad Peak and Manaslu.
Two dead, two missing
But unfortunately there is also sad news. A 39-year-old Irish mountaineer is said to have slipped and fallen into depth on his descent from the summit of Everest at an altitude of about 8,300 meters. He is missing. On Kangchenjunga two climbers from India, 46 and 48 years old, died during the descent, obviously suffering from high altitude sickness. A 49-year-old Chilean mountaineer is missing, who reportedly was climbing alone and without bottled oxygen. Like the two Indians, he was in the descent from the 8,586-meter-high summit of the third highest mountain on earth.
Update 20 May: Only Sergi Mingote and Juan Pablo Mohr reached the summit of Lhotse without breathing mask. Carlos Garranza, Muhammad Ali “Sadpara” and Iniego Castineyra used bottled oxygen. Moeses Fiamoncini did not reach the highest point. This was announced by Carlos Garranza.