SHERPA Kami Rita completed his 24th ascent of Mount Everest on Tuesday, a new record and, incredibly, his second trip to the summit in just a week. 49-year-old Rita has been working as a guide for 25 years and is vocal in letting people know the importance of Sherpa’s role in helping less experienced – or even highly experienced – climbers achieve their dreams. He told the BBC “Sherpas fix ropes all the way to the top, so they make their way fixing the ropes and the foreigners give interviews saying Everest is easier, or talk about their courage. But they forget the contribution of the Sherpa. We have struggled a lot to make it happen. We suffer.”
“Sherpa” isn’t a word for guide as many people think, but refers to the ethnic groups native to the mountainous regions of Nepal, although they also live in China and Bhutan. Their acclimatisation to low altitude and general aptitude for climbing means that they have been a part of almost every conquest of Everest and other Himalayan peaks since Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing’s first successful ascent in 1953.
Sherpa Rita’s climbing career is far from over and he has said he can easily go on for another decade with the use of oxygen. However, it is more than a job for him and his fellow guides “In every mountain there is a goddess. It’s our responsibility to keep the goddess happy,” he said. “Months before I start an ascent I start worshipping and ask for forgiveness because I will have to put my feet on her body”.