A Nepalese Sherpa has broken the record for the fastest ascent of Mount Everest by more than two hours, reaching the summit just over eight hours after leaving base camp, officials said on Friday.
Pemba Dorji Sherpa (26) scaled the world's highest peak in eight hours 10 minutes, breaking the record set by Lakpa Gelu Sherpa (36) of 10 hours 46 minutes in May 2003, a tourism ministry official said in capital Kathmandu.
"Pemba scaled the 8,848-metre (29,002-foot) peak at 2:10am (local time Friday) after leaving the base camp at 6pm on Thursday evening," the official said. "Detailed reports about Pemba's record breaking summit ascent in the shortest time is awaited," he added. An official announcement is expected later on Friday, he said, asking not to be named.
Before leaving for base camp in March 2004, Pemba had announced at a press conference that he would try to beat Lakpa's speed ascent record.
The two Sherpas have been vying with each other to be quickest up the mountain, with Pemba breaking the record last year when he, on May 23, whizzed up in a time of 12 hours 46 minutes.
However, just three days later Lakpa sprinted to the top to set a new record of 10 hours 46 minutes. "I did not lose time. I did not take any solid food. I only drank some vitaminised fruit juice," he said afterwards.
The record for ascending the world's tallest peak has been steadily chipped away, thanks to the speedsters being able to use ropes and ladders put in place by other teams.
It took Sir Edmund Hillary and his climbing partner, the late Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, more than seven weeks from base camp to the summit when they became the first men to stand at the top of the world on May 29, 1953.
During 50th anniversary celebrations of that historic moment last year, Hillary pointed out that he and Tenzing had to forge their own route through the tricky Khumbu Icefall and further up the mountain without the benefit of modern equipment, or of ropes and ladders already fixed in place.
"We had to do everything ourselves," said Hillary, clearly unimpressed by the new trends on Everest.