Everest has always been a place of dreams - some won, some lost, some renewed, some shattered. Regardless of how the popular media like to portray the mountain as "easy", the reality is it is still 29,035 feet high, and an unforgiving place even on a good day. And, as yet there is no escalator - everyone still has to climb, one foot in front of the other, to the top.
Last week, legendary Nepali climber Apa Sherpa reached the top for the 18th time. Yes, that's right, the eighteenth time on the summit of Everest!
While Apa said a few years back after his 14th time reaching the top that he would never return, he obviously did for another 4 successful summits. And, my hunch is he'll be back yet again and will hit the 20 summits mark in 2009 or 2010.
What is amazing about Apa - aside from his record - is his quiet, humble nature. Thin and wiry, Apa has a ready laugh, a great smile, and a disarming demeanor that is tough to reconcile with his amazing accomplishments. Quite a guy, to say the least. Read more about Apa in my blog and on the Super Sherpas website.
Not to be outdone, my good friend Dave Hahn just broke his own record, too. Dave just reached the summit of Everest for the 10th time, a record for any non-Nepali person. Like Apa, Dave is a low-key, mild-mannered guy who you'd never guess is one of the world's most accomplished high-altitude climbers.
Along with his Everest record, Dave also holds the record for the most ascents of Mount Vinson in Antarctica. He's also made the Shackleton Crossing of South Georgia many times, climbed Mount McKinley some 20 times, and made hundreds of ascents of Mount Rainier. Not a bad resume, Dave!
Dave reached the top with Nicky Messner, a client of mine from IMG's Ouray Ice Climbing programs, and Sherpas Samduk Dorje and Phinjo Dorje, both of Pangboche. Read about the expedition in IMG's website, here.
On another amazing Everest note, the record for the oldest person to reach the summit was set on Sunday, May 25th, by Nepali Min Bahadur Sherchan...76 years old. Born on June 20, 1931, in the remote hinterlands of the Myagdi District of western Nepal, Min Bahadur had always dreamed of reaching the summit of Everest. His dream finally came true, and he is certainly a hero to the people of Nepal, and to people everywhere: never give up on your dreams!
Despite all the complications with the Olympic Torch run and the mountain being closed, it seems to have been another banner year on Everest. Congratulations to all!
- Jake Norton is an Everest climber, guide, photographer, writer, and motivational speaker from Colorado.