A Nepali Sherpa scaled Mount Everest for a record 25th time on Friday, an official said, beating his own record after he ascended as part of a group that was the first to reach the summit in more than a year.
The world’s highest mountain had been closed to climbers in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last successful summit attempt, until Friday’s climb after it reopened, was in 2019.
Kami Rita Sherpa, 51, scaled the 8,848.86-metre mountain via the traditional southeast ridge route with 11 other Sherpa climbers, tourism official Mira Acharya said.
“This is the season’s first success,” she told Reuters from the base camp.
The route was pioneered by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa in 1953 and remains the most popular.
Kami, who goes by his first name, beat his own record of 24 ascents set in 2019, when he said he would retire after making his 25th climb. He was not immediately available for comment.
He is four ascents ahead of at least two other Sherpa climbers, who have each made 21 summits, according to Ang Tshering Sherpa, former head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
Kami was part of a rope fixing team to the summit, his Seven Summit trekking agency said.
Nepal has issued a record 408 permits to climb Everest in the peak season, which running from April to May.
The Himalayan nation, which is heavily reliant on climbers for foreign exchange, faced criticism after 2019 was marred by overcrowding and climber deaths on the mountain.
Climbers are required to show a negative test for the coronavirus before heading to the mountain, according to Nepali rules aimed at preventing infections among climbing groups.
Nepal reported a record daily rise of 9,023 coronavirus cases on Friday taking the total to 377,603 infections, with 3,579 deaths.