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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Sherpa sets record Everest time
Sherpa Pemba Dorje
Pemba Dorje had disputed a rival sherpa's previous record
A Sherpa in Nepal has set a new record for the fastest ascent of Mount Everest, government officials say.

Pemba Dorje Sherpa climbed the mountain in eight hours and 10 minutes on Friday, tourism ministry official Purna Bhakta Tandukar confirmed.

Last year, Pemba Dorje was involved in a bitter dispute with another climber, Lakpa Gelu Sherpa, over who had set the previous fastest time.

The tourism ministry had to intervene and found in Lakpa Gelu's favour.

Pemba Dorje's trekking agency said he had called from Everest base camp to say he had reached the top at 0210 on Friday.

Pemba Dorje's task was made easier because some 90 climbers, taking advantage of recent good weather, had been ahead of him, working a path to the top, hardening the soft snow.

"If there are many people who went ahead of you, then the path is well set and you don't have to work extra to make the road for yourself," Ang Phurba Sherpa, who climbed Everest in 1979, told the BBC.

In addition, climbers often leave behind fixed ropes and ladders that other climbers can take advantage of to speed their ascent.


The duel between the sherpas came to a head during last May's Golden Jubilee celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the first ascent by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and his Nepalese guide, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

Mount Everest
About 200 climbers have died on the slopes of Mount Everest

Lakpa Gelu claimed the record with a time of 10 hours and 56 minutes on 26 May but was challenged by Pemba Dorje, who had set a new record of 12 hours and 45 minutes only three days earlier.

Pemba Dorje questioned the authenticity of Lakpa Gelu's record and petitioned the tourism ministry for an official investigation into the expedition.

Last July, the ministry confirmed Lakpa Gelu's record.

Pemba Dorje's latest attempt came as part of a team led by veteran climber, Appa Sherpa, who broke the record for the number of ascents on Monday with his fourteenth climb.

More than 1,300 people have climbed the 8,850-metre (29,035-feet) mountain - about 200 climbers have died on it.

The latest fatality was a 63-year-old Japanese woman, Shoko Ota, who died on the descent after conquering the mountain on Thursday with her team.

Three South Koreans are also reported to have died this week.

Nepal's authorities have given permission to 13 teams to climb the mountain this spring season.

Sherpa breaks own Everest record
17 May 04  |  South Asia
Everest speed record ruling
31 Jul 03  |  South Asia
Everest speed record row
16 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Everest draws record climber back
23 Jan 03  |  South Asia
Everest record holder retires
22 May 02  |  South Asia


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