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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Tall stories claim over Everest
Sherpa Pemba Dorje
Pemba Dorje had disputed a rival sherpa's previous record
Twelve mountaineers in Nepal have questioned the record set last month by Pemba Dorje Sherpa as the fastest Mount Everest climber.

They have written to the tourism ministry demanding an investigation into Pemba's achievement.

All of the complainants are Everest summiteers, including Lakpa Gelu Sherpa whose speed record Pemba broke.

The 75-day season for climbing Everest ended on Monday, with a record number of 166 people reaching the top.

Flurry of bickering

Correspondents say that it looks as if the dispute between the two rival climbers as to who climbed Everest in the fastest time is turning personal.

Each climber has questioned the other's achievement with claims and counter-claims flying around thicker than a Himalayan snowstorm.

The flurry of bickering began last year, when Lakpa Gelu Sherpa climbed the world's tallest peak in a record-breaking 10 hours and 56 minutes.

Mount Everest
Claims and counter claims have flown around thicker than a Himalayan snowstorm

Three days later, Pemba Dorje Sherpa made it to the top in 12 hours and 45 minutes. He then filed a complaint at the tourism ministry claiming that Lakpa's feat was not proven.

The government launched an investigation which finally upheld Lakpa's record.

But now Pemba's new time of eight hours and 10 minutes has been questioned along similar lines by Lakpa and 11 other Everest summiteers.

They argue that the weather was so bad on the day Pemba claimed to have reached the peak that no expedition group on Everest could continue their climbs.

They have also said that the evidence Pemba has submitted at the tourism ministry does not justify his claim that he reached the summit.

But 27-year-old Pemba says there were many climbers who saw him on his way to the top on 20 May.

He says that that he is confident that the evidence he has brought back from the summit on 21 May will prove his record.

The BBC's Navin Singh Khadka in Kathmandu says that tourism ministry officials have already started an investigation into the matter, and the results will be made public at the earliest opportunity.


SEE ALSO:
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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