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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Everest record holder retires
Mount Everest
More than 170 people died on Everest's treacherous slopes
A veteran Sherpa guide holding the record for the most Everest climbs has announced his retirement after completing his 12th ascent to the world's highest mountain last week.

Sherpa Appa
Sherpa Appa first climbed Everest in 1989
Appa Sherpa, aged 43, said after returning to the Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, that his decision was influenced by family reasons.

"I want to continue climbing, but it is my family who are afraid and have persuaded me to quit climbing."

But he said he would still help co-ordinate expeditions to the mountain.

"I will not leave the mountain though, and will go up to the base camp only."

Expeditions to the 8,850-metre summit involve huge risks, and more than 170 people have died on the mountain since it was first conquered 50 years ago.

Family man

Appa, who like most Sherpas uses only one name, was the first to reach the summit when a record 54 climbers scaled Everest on the same day last week.

Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (left) and Sir Edmund Hillary
The original conquerors: Norgay and Hillary

He shattered his previous record set last year, but admitted his final ascent was a tough adventure.

"It was difficult climb this year and I was fixing ropes all the way to the summit."

Appa, who makes his living by guiding expeditions to the top of the world once a year, first climbed Everest in 1989.

He uses the money to feed his family and put his four children through school for the rest of the year.

Last week ascent marked the beginning of celebrations of the first conquest of Everest by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Edmund Hillary in 1953.

A total of 1,114 people have reached Everest's summit since it was conquered 50 years ago.

See also:

17 May 02 | South Asia
30 Apr 01 | South Asia
28 Feb 00 | South Asia
05 Mar 02 | South Asia
25 Mar 02 | South Asia
16 Aug 98 | South Asia
06 Jun 98 | S/W Asia
10 May 99 | In Depth
25 Oct 99 | South Asia
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