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Sherpa beats Everest record again

22 May 08 08:17 GMT

A Nepalese sherpa has climbed Mount Everest for the 18th time, beating his own record for most ascents of the world's highest peak, officials say.

Appa Sherpa, 47, reached the 8,850m-high (29,035ft) summit along with several members of his team, the Nepal Mountaineering Association said.

Appa grew up in the Everest foothills and first climbed the mountain in 1989.

His nearest challenger is fellow Sherpa guide Chhewang Nima, 42, who has made 15 successful trips to the summit.

'Proud moment'

"Appa Sherpa summitted Everest at 05:45 local time (0000 GMT) this morning. He has set the new world record as it is the 18th time he has got to the top," Ang Tsering Sherpa, the chairman of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told the news agency AFP.

"This is another proud moment for the whole mountaineering fraternity," he said.

Appa Sherpa is among dozens of climbers to reach the Everest summit this week because of good weather.

Many more are expected to follow in the days to come.

Ascents were delayed this spring season by a temporary ban imposed on the summit by Nepal to prevent anti-Chinese protests during the Olympic torch relay.

Sherpas, local Himalayan tribesmen, have been used as guides and porters by mountaineering teams climbing Everest.

Appa has used the money from each ascent to feed his family and put his four children through school.

He came out of retirement in 2003 to climb the peak again for the 50th anniversary of the first climb.

Nearly 2,500 people have reached the summit of Everest since it was first climbed by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

There have been more than 200 deaths on the mountain.

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