May 26, 2022

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Ukrainian summits Everest 'for her people' as records tumble

Ukrainian summits Everest ‘for her people’ as records tumble

Everest saw a clutch of records on Thursday including the most summits for a woman and the first all-Black team — and a Ukrainian climber reached the top of the world for her war-torn country.

Nepali climber Lhakpa Sherpa, 48, reached the snow-capped summit for the 10th time, breaking her own record set in 2018.

“Lhakpa stood atop Everest at 6:15 am today. This has become her 10th ascent,” Mingma Gelu Sherpa of Seven Summit Adventure, the agency that handled her expedition, told AFP from the Everest base camp.

Record-holder Sherpa, who works at Whole Foods in Connecticut for the rest of the year, first scaled the highest mountain in the world in 2001.

“My climbing is not for the record. Many in the young generation follow my footstep. They climb mountains following me. So, I want the young generation to keep going and not to give up,” Sherpa said in an interview with AFP before leaving for the climb.

Thursday’s summits came five days after a group of 11 Nepali climbers fixed the rope to set the route for this climbing season.

Among them was the Full Circle Everest Expedition, the first all-Black team to summit the 8,849-metre (29,032-foot) mountain.

“The first all-Black expedition has made it to Everest. At least six from the team reached the summit along with their guides,” said Jiban Ghimire of Shangri-La Nepal Treks.

The wave of summits also saw the only Ukrainian climber this season, Antonina Samoilova reach the top with her country’s flag, her expedition company 14 Peaks Expedition confirmed.

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“I climb Everest to support all the people of Ukraine, to support every warrior, every volunteer and all the people who were affected by this cruel war and to give strength to fight until we win,” the 33-year-old said in an interview before heading off to the Everest region.

Climber Lucy Westlake also became the youngest US female climber at 18 to summit Everest, Xtreme Climbers Treks and Expeditions posted on their Facebook page.

Nepal has issued 317 permits to foreign mountaineers for this year’s Everest spring climbing season, which runs from mid-April to the end of May.

At least three climbers, a Russian and two Nepalis, have died on Everest since the season began.

The country only reopened its peaks to mountaineers last year after the pandemic shut down the industry in 2020.

But with coronavirus cases receding, expedition operators in Nepal are hopeful of a busier climbing season this year.