Utah's adopted "little man with a big smile and huge heart" extended his own world record with 21 trips to the highest point on the planet late Tuesday (early Wednesday in Nepal).
No one has stood at the summit of Mount Everest (29,035 feet above sea level) more than Apa Sherpa. The 5-foot-4, 120-pound native of Thame, Nepal, in the Himalayan Highlands moved to Utah in 2006 and resides in Draper with his wife and three children. His family waited anxiously for word of his summit and will not rest until the 51-year-old Apa has made it back to Everest base camp.
Asian Trekking, the company sponsoring the Eco Everest Expedition that Apa was with, reported that he broke his own world record at 9:15 a.m. (Nepal time) on May 11 after leaving Camp 4 at 10 p.m. on May 10. Apa has climbed with Eco Everest the past four summits. He was joined on this climb by an American, a climber from Switzerland, his brother, Arita Sherpa, and two fellow Sherpas Ang Dawa Sherpa and Phurba Sherpa.
Apa had made it to Camp 4 (26,000 feet) on Saturday, but decided not to risk the summit due to high winds and returned all the way to base camp (17,700 feet). Apa has made it to the summit of Everest 21 of the past 22 years.
Apa's family was concerned about his health after several calls home leading up to his bid for the summit.
"He had a sore throat and a cough. My mom was worried and asked him to go to the doctor," said Tenzing Sherpa, Apa's oldest son, late Tuesday night. "He went, and the doctor said he would be OK. We are very happy for him."
Also following the attempt from Utah via the Internet on Tuesday was Terrell Pool. The Utah man, and Apa's boss, had traveled with the world-record holder hoping to experience for himself the wonders of the mountain his employee has been talking about for the past four years.
Pool had hoped to trek with Apa to base camp and perhaps make an attempt to reach Camp 2 (21,300 feet), but the elevation proved too much and he had to turn around after reaching roughly 16,000 feet.
"I wanted to see him in his real office, but it turned out I only got to see him during his commute," said Pool, who was evacuated from Namche by helicopter and was later diagnosed in Katmandu with high altitude cerebral edema, a leaking of fluid from the brain into the area between the brain and skull that creates pressure.
Pool told The Salt Lake Tribune before leaving for Nepal that in the Himalayas, Apa would be the boss. When Pool started to have issues with the altitude, Apa stayed with him, and the pair descended together hoping the aliment would go away. In Namche, they decided it was vital that Pool get down fast and called a helicopter.
"Apa basically got me down off the mountain," Pool said. "He had to rescue his boss. It is obvious he does not put himself first. He puts the welfare of whomever is with him first."
Apa Sherpa's successful summits of Mount Everest
1. May 10, 1990
2. May 8, 1991
3. May 12, 1992
4. Oct. 7, 1992
5. May 10, 1993
6. Oct. 10, 1994
7. May 15, 1995
8. April 26, 1997
9. May 20, 1998
10. May 26, 1999
11. May 24, 2000
12. May 16, 2002
13. May 26, 2003
14. May 17, 2004
15. May 31, 2005
16. May 19, 2006
17. May 16, 2007
18. May 22, 2008
19. May 21, 2009
20. May 22, 2010
21. May 11, 2011 (May 10 in Utah)
Source: Apa Sherpa