Ang Rita Sherpa, Everest record breaker dies at the age of 72 in Kathmandu. He climbed Mt. Everest for 10 times without bottled Oxygen. He was also known as Snow Leopard.
Ang Rita Sherpa, popularly known as the Snow Leopard, first reached the summit of the world’s tallest mountain in 1983.
His family said he died in the capital Kathmandu on Monday. He had brain and liver ailments. His death was described as a major loss to Nepal and its climbing community.
In 2017, the Guinness World Records recognized Ang Rita as the only person in the world to have climbed Mount Everest 10 times without bottled oxygen, between 1983 and 1996. The record still stands.
He also achieved the first winter climb of the Mt. Everest 8,848m (29,028ft) mountain without supplementary oxygen in 1987.
His skill at climbing earned him the nickname Snow Leopard.
Ang Rita also worked on conservation projects to protect the Himalayan environment and biodiversity.
His body has been kept at a Sherpa Monastery and he will be cremated on Wednesday as per Sherpa tradition, said Ang Tshering, former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association.
Ang Rita, a native of Thamo village in Solukhumbu, last stood atop the world’s tallest mountain in 1996, the 10th time without supplementary oxygen.
His first eight-thousander was the 8,167-metre Dhaulagiri in western Nepal with a Belgian expedition in 1982. The mountain is considered one of the more difficult mountains to climb.
“A young, tall and strong man, he succeeded in his first attempt,” recalls Ang Tshering.
His Dhaulagiri success led him to the world’s highest peak in 1983 where he guided an American team, he said.
After that, he never looked back.
In Nepal, the state honored him with Gorkha Dakshin Bahu First Class and the Tri Shakti Patta First Class.
Ang Rita claimed that he felt more comfortable climbing without bottled oxygen.
Ang Rita was in bad health in his village in 1999. Ang Tshering remembers how he hired a chopper and flew him to a hospital in Kathmandu for treatment.
Despite poor health, his friends and juniors in the mountaineering fraternity complained, Ang Rita was too fond of drinking.
Ang Rita’s health worsened after the death of his eldest son in April 2012. Karsang Namgyal Sherpa, an experienced climber, who had conquered the 8848-metre peak several times, had collapsed at Everest base camp due to altitude sickness.
Nepal’s tourism department said his contribution to mountaineering would “always be remembered”.
Descended from Tibetan heritage, the Sherpa community are an ethnic group, indigenous to the Himalayan region. But for many outside Nepal, the word “Sherpa” has become synonymous with those working as mountain guides.
Thousands of people have climbed to the peak of Mount Everest, but doing so without oxygen remains rare.
We all will miss Ang Rita Sherpa.