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Sunday, 21 May, 2000, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Everest ascent record slashed
north east ridge
More than 180 climbers have died on Everest
A Nepalese climber has knocked more than four hours off the record time for an ascent of Mount Everest, the world's highest peak.



I want to provide education for my native children

Babu Chheri
Sherpa Babu Chheri reached the summit at 0856 local time (0311 GMT) after an overnight climb lasting 15 hours and 56 minutes.

The previous record, set two years ago by another sherpa, was 20 hours and 24 minutes.

It was Babu Chheri's 10th successful ascent of the 8,848m peak (29,028ft) completed without bottled oxygen.

Fund raising

Last May, on his ninth climb, he spent a record 21 hours on the summit without oxygen or food.

Officials said Sherpa Babu Chheri, who is in his mid-30s, was in good health with high morale and was expected to descend on Sunday.

His record-breaking climb was an attempt to raise funds to set up a school in the Everest region.

"Though I lost the opportunity to learn how to write and read... I want to provide education for my native children by establishing as many schools as possible," he said before setting out.

He began his climb at base camp at 5,520m (17,500ft) taking the South Col route.

Nepal's Tourism Ministry said he was joined by his brother, Dawa, for the last part of the climb.

Stamina

The ascent to the summit usually takes two to four days with breaks.


Lakpa: sherpa heroine
Lakpa: sherpa heroine
Sherpas, who live at the foot of the Himalayas, were mostly yak herders and traders until Nepal opened its borders to tourism in 1950.

Their stamina and knowledge of the mountains make them expert guides and porters.

Since the first recorded conquest of Everest in 1953 by New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, more than 800 people have conquered the world's highest peak.

About 180 people have died on its slopes.

Nepal's mountaineering season began in March and ends about 31 May, when the monsoon rains bring blizzard-like conditions.

Records set

Babu Chheri is only the third mountaineer to have climbed Everest 10 times.

On Thursday, deep snow forced another Nepalese climber, Ang Dorje Sherpa, to turn back 100m from the summit in what would have been a record-breaking 17-hour ascent.

In a reversal of the roles on Sir Edmund Hillary's ascent, Ang Dorje was supported by a mountain guide from New Zealand, David Hiddleston.

On the same day, 26-year-old Lakpa became only the second female sherpa to reach the summit.

Her predecessor, Pasang Llhamu, died on the way down in 1993.

On Wednesday, a 44-year-old travel agent, Nazir Sabir, became the first Pakistani to get to the top.

On Tuesday, three teams reached the summit, becoming the first to scale Everest from the Nepalese side this millennium.

A Spanish television crew, from a programme called "Verging on the Impossible", is among the teams currently waiting for good weather to make an attempt on the peak.

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See also:

13 Apr 00 | South Asia
Sherpa boy makes Everest bid
25 Oct 99 | South Asia
Legendary sherpa gives up mountains
02 Feb 00 | South Asia
Everest's 'new height' disputed
31 Mar 00 | South Asia
Sherpa's race to the top
28 Feb 00 | South Asia
Fears over surge in Everest attempts
08 Apr 00 | South Asia
Female Sherpas tackle Everest
27 Mar 99 | South Asia
Teen aims to beat Everest
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