By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A veteran Sherpa guide who scaled Mount Everest for a record 22nd time returned from the mountain on May 20 and said he’s already planning his next trip.
After flying back to Kathmandu by helicopter, Kami Rita, 48, said he’s not ready to retire and plans to continue to guide on Everest next year.
“I will continue to climb. I have not reached my retirement age, and until I retire I will continue to be a guide on Everest,’’ he said.
He said he will continue to climb other peaks and plans to attempt Mount Everest again next year.
“I really don’t need to prepare for Everest since I will be climbing other peaks later this year,’’ he said.
Friends and supporters welcomed Kami Rita at Kathmandu’s airport with bouquets and traditional ceremonial scarves.
He first scaled Everest at age 24, and has made the climb almost every year since then. He has also climbed many of the region’s other high peaks, including K-2, Cho-Oyu, Manaslu and Lhotse. In the autumn, he guides clients to smaller peaks in Nepal.
Mountaineering has been his family tradition. Kami Rita’s father was among the first professional guides after Nepal opened to foreign trekkers and mountaineers in 1950. His brother has scaled Everest 17 times. Most of his male relatives have reached the top at least once.
Kami Rita was at Everest Base Camp when an avalanche struck in 2014, killing 16 Sherpa guides, including five from his team. The next year, an earthquake triggered another avalanche that ripped through Base Camp, killing 19 people. He escaped only because his team’s tents were set up that year on the far side of Base Camp.
Only two other Sherpa guides have scaled Everest 21 times, and they have all retired.