KATHMANDU — A 51-year-old Nepalese climber scaled Mount Everest for the 21st time on Wednesday, extending his own record for the number of successful ascents of the world's highest mountain, a spokesman said.
Apa Sherpa, dubbed the "Super Sherpa" for the apparent ease with which he climbs the peak, reached the summit early Wednesday after climbing all night in conditions expedition organisers described as "perfect."
"He along with five other climbers had left camp four last night at 10pm and all of them made it to the top," said Ang Tshering Sherpa, chairman of expeditions organisers Asian Trekking.
"The conditions were perfect -- very clear, with not too much wind."
All were climbing as part of the annual Eco Everest campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on the Himalayas and remove the tonnes of rubbish left behind by previous expeditions from the mountain.
News of Sherpa's successful ascent came after 82-year-old former Nepalese foreign minister Shailendra Kumar Upadhyaya died earlier in the week during an attempt to become the oldest person to climb the mountain.
An army helicopter airlifted his body on Wednesday and he was to be cremated later in the day in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.
Upadhyaya was climbing to raise awareness about the capabilities of elderly people, but he died on Monday after reaching camp one.
The cause of his death is not yet known, but the mountain has claimed hundreds of lives over the years, with many climbers succumbing to altitude sickness or falling to their deaths.
Sherpa's first expedition to the summit was more than 20 years ago in 1990, and he has dedicated his last four climbs to the Eco Everest campaign.
After last year's expedition, he said he was disturbed by the visible changes on the mountain caused by rising temperatures, which were making climbing more dangerous.
"The snow along the slopes had melted, exposing the bare rocks underneath, which made it very difficult for us to walk up the slope as there was no snow to dig our crampons into," he told AFP in an interview.
Around 3,000 people have made it to the top of Everest since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first to conquer the 8,848-metre (29,028-foot) peak in 1953.
The summit season on Everest begins in late April and May when a small window between spring and the summer monsoon offers the best conditions for making the ascent.
Tilak Pandey, an official with the government mountaineering department, said 29 people had reached the top of the mountain so far this year, 10 of them on Wednesday.
He predicted dozens more climbers would take advantage of the clear conditions over the next few days to launch their attempts on the summit.
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