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 Thursday, 23 January, 2003, 08:11 GMT
Everest draws record climber back
Mount Everest
Everest has claimed scores of lives

A Nepalese mountaineer who has climbed Mount Everest a record 12 times is planning to come out of retirement.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Everest ascent, and Appa Sherpa believes it will be the perfect occasion to make it his 13th.

Sherpa Appa
Appa first climbed Everest in 1989
But he faces a Himalayan hurdle not in the snowy mountains, but at home.

He has to seek the permission of a reluctant wife.

Following family pressure, the 44-year-old father of four hung up his snow-boots last year, right after a record 12th ascent.

Not that he was tired of climbing or scared of the challenge.

His family - especially his wife - did not want him to continue risking his life.

They had good reason to fear for his safety.

The fastest Everest climber, Babu Chhiri Sherpa, died after slipping into a snow crevasse, and the youngest climber, Temba Sherpa, lost five fingers to frostbite.

About 200 people have lost their lives during or after climbing Mount Everest in the past 50 years.

Call of the mountain

But Appa says the temptation of Everest is too difficult to resist.

Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (left) and Sir Edmund Hillary
The original conquerors: Norgay and Hillary
Having made it to the top of the world so many times, he wants to do it one more time on what he says is the special occasion of the golden jubilee year of the Everest ascent.

His wife is not aware of his plans.

An unsure Appa has not yet dared to seek her permission.

He told the BBC that there was still plenty of time for that.

Climbers normally leave for Everest base camp in March before heading towards the top in May.

It is the most popular climbing season and the time that Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and his sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, first scaled the world's highest mountain in 1953.

Some 1,200 people have followed them to the top so far.

A number of programmes - including a reunion of Everest climbers - have been planned for later this year to commemorate the anniversary.

See also:

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