Nepali smashes women’s record for fastest ascent of Everest: Guess how fast?

Nepal’s Phunjo Lama smashed the record on Thursday for the fastest ascent of Everest by a woman, conquering the world’s highest mountain in 14 hours and 31 minutes.

Climbers usually take days to reach the top of the 8 849-metre (29 000-foot) mountain, spending nights on its different camps to rest and acclimatise.

Reclaimed her world record

But Lama, who is in her thirties, shaved more than 11 hours off the previous best that had stood since 2021. It means she has reclaimed her own world record.

“She started (from the base camp) at 15:52 on May 22, summited 6:23 am May 23,” Khim Lal Gautam, chief of the tourism’s department field office at the base camp, told AFP.

Earlier this month, when Lama was still at base camp, she said in a post on Facebook that she was “100 percent sure” she would reach the top of “the Mother Goddess”.

In 2018, Lama clinched the record for the fastest ascent by a woman by climbing Everest in 39 hours and six minutes.

That record was broken in 2021 by Ada Tsang Yin-hung from Hong Kong, who conquered the mountain in 25 hours and 50 minutes.

Nepali climber Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa holds the record for the fastest ascent of Everest, reaching the summit in 10 hours and 56 minutes in 2003.

‘Inspiration’

Lama is also a guide and helicopter long-line rescuer – a job that entails flying in while dangling from a rope to help extract injured climbers when the terrain is too dangerous for aircraft to come in close or land.

She has climbed some of the highest peaks in the world, including Manaslu and Cho Oyu, both also in the Himalayas.

“She is very courageous and determined… and trained hard for her summit,” fellow woman mountaineer Maya Sherpa said.

“Her record is an inspiration for other Nepali female climbers.”

Lama’s successful ascent came as a Kenyan climber was confirmed dead on Everest and the search continues for three other missing climbers, one British and two Nepali.

Reopened the Tibetan route to foreigners

Earlier this month, two Mongolian climbers went missing after reaching Everest’s summit and were later found dead, as was the tragic case of a Kenyan climber this week.

Nepal has issued more than 900 permits for its mountains this year, including 419 for Everest, earning more than $5 million in royalties.

More than 500 climbers and their guides have already reached the summit of Everest after a rope-fixing team reached the peak last month.

This year, China also reopened the Tibetan route to foreigners for the first time since closing it in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 10 highest peaks and welcomes hundreds of adventurers each spring, when temperatures are warm and winds typically calm.

Last year, more than 600 climbers made it to the summit of Everest, but it was also the deadliest season on the mountain, with 18 fatalities.

By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse