A 44-year old Nepali woman by the name of Lhakpa Sherpa has broken her own record for the most summits of Mt. Everest by a female climber. This past weekend, Lhakpa was part of a team of mountaineers that successful scaled the peak from its North Side in Tibet, giving her the eighth successful expedition of her illustrious career. And while that number is indeed impressive, it is only a part of her amazing story.
Like most Sherpas, Lhakpa was born and raised in Nepal. One of 11 children, she grew up in the shadow of Makalu, the fifth highest mountain on the planet at 27,825 feet. But, as a young girl coming of age in the Himalaya during the 1970’s, it was believed that women could not climb the very big peaks that lured foreign mountaineers to her homeland. It wasn’t until she joined an all-women expedition in 2000 that she was finally given the chance to actually set foot on Everest. That year, she would reach the summit for the first time, without any formal mountaineering training or experience whatsoever.
Since then, she has returned to Everest on numerous occasions, often working as a guide while collecting seven more summits along the way. One of those summits came just eight months after the birth of her first daughter, and another while two months pregnant with her second child. Now, the mother of three is recognized as one of the strongest mountaineers in the world, having also completed the Seven Summits — the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents — last year
After reaching the 29,029-foot summit of Everest again this past weekend, Lhakpa has said that she would like to climb the mountain two more times to reach a nice round number of 10 successful trips to the top of the world before she retires. That would still leave her well short of the record for most summits by a man however, which is currently held by Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa, who have 21 summits each.
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