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Nepalese Sherpa Sets New Record For Climbing Mount Everest With 24th Ascent

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

All right, how's this for breaking your own record? This morning, a 49-year-old man from Nepal reached the top of the tallest mountain in the world for the 24th time. That is more times up Mount Everest than anyone else. It's the second time he's summited in a week. And Audie, may I just repeat? This man is 49 years old.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Hey, it's still young.

KELLY: Yeah, absolutely.

CORNISH: The climber is Kami Rita Sherpa. He's a member of the ethnic Himalayan group that's renowned for their skill in mountaineering.

ANNA CALLAGHAN: Kami Rita climbed Everest for the first time in 1994 when he was just 24.

CORNISH: Anna Callaghan - she wrote for Kami Rita for Outside Magazine and has traveled in the Himalayas.

CALLAGHAN: Once is an incredible feat. You know, Everest is 29,035 feet. The altitude is very challenging.

KELLY: Kami Rita guides climbers these days. Climbing mountains was not his first ambition.

CALLAGHAN: Kami Rita wanted to be a monk, and that's what he did. He studied at a monastery for four years before deciding that he didn't really like the lifestyle.

KELLY: So he signed on as a cook for Everest Expeditions and worked his way up - way up - to become a guide.

CORNISH: So with 24 visits to the top of Everest, is this sherpa ready to retire?

CALLAGHAN: You know, you would think so, but Kami had said to some different news outlets last spring that he's going to keep going back every spring. So it's hard to say when that limit will be for him in terms of age. But he seems like he's got a lot of years left in him.

KELLY: Writer Anna Callaghan talking about Kami Rita Sherpa, who holds the record for reaching the summit of Mount Everest.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOXYGEN'S "STAR POWER I: OVERTURE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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