“Middle age is not so bad,” says Kami Rita Sherpa. The record-breaking climber of Mount Everest has 51 years under his belt. Today at 6 pm local time he reached the highest point on earth at 8,849 meters for the 25th time (with bottled oxygen). Kami Rita led the twelve-member Sherpa team that fixed the ropes up to Everest summit. The first commercial teams are also expected there in a few days. It would not be surprising if Kami Rita would then immediately add his 26th Everest ascent. He already has five season double-packs on his account: in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2019.
Mountain guide with passion
“People often ask me wheather I enjoy my job and I tell them I do but not for the climbing,” Kami Rita writes in his little book “How to climb Everest”: “I’ve done Everest before and I don’t need to do it again. I enjoy my job because of what I see in the faces of the people I guide right at this moment, when they reach the summit.”
His brother placed him
Kami Rita Sherpa was born in the village of Thame in the Khumbu region, near Everest. His family lives in the second generation on mountaineering tourism. Kami’s father hired for expeditions in the 1950s. His career ended when he suffered severe frostbite during climbing. “My inspiration has always been my father,” Kami Rita told the newspaper “Kathmandu Post”. “He is the one who drives me forward and always pushes me to do great things. As he never climbed Everest, I wanted to do it for him.”
That’s what also Kami’s older brother, Lakpa Rita Sherpa, did, 17 times. Lakpa wrote history when he became the first Nepali to complete the collection of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents, with a summit success on Kilimanjaro in 2009. It was also the older brother who got Kami Rita his first Everest job in 1992. In 1994, the younger of the two stood on the roof of the world for the first time.
Mental and physical strength – and humility
In his Everest guidebook, Kami Rita describes his secret to success: “When I’m on Everest I’m totally focused.” Longing for family, homesickness, all of that, he says, must be pushed aside and “make the mountain your home instead”. In addition, physical fitness must come into play, but even this is not enough, according to the Sherpa: “Lots of people think, because they’re in good shape, they won’t suffer from altitute, but sometimes it’s the fittest people who get into the biggest trouble. When it comes to mountain, humility is everything.”
The record holder has maintained that humility throughout his nearly three decades on Mount Everest: “Just because we see ourselves as experts in something doesn’t mean we`ve owned the right to be close-minded. Because the mountain doesn’t know you’re an expert. So before you start, prepare yourself to maintain your humility. It may just save your life.”
Update 25 May: Kami Rita has renounced another summit attempt this spring. He had already been to the Western Qwm to climb with clients, said the Sherpa after his return to Kathmandu: “”I didn’t have a good dream. I felt goddess was telling me ‘it is enough for this time’. So, I turned back.”