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51-year-old scales Mt Everest for 21st time, for a cause

world Updated: Apr 26, 2012 00:53 IST
Utpal Parashar

Pushing limits seems second nature to Apa Sherpa. While most would be content on reaching the peak of Mount Everest once, this 51-year-old has done it 21 times-a world record. And he isn't finished yet.

This Sunday, Apa, who has been dubbed 'Super Sherpa' for his climbing feats, completed

a back breaking 99-day trek across the Himalayas in Nepal covering over 1,555 kilometres as part of the Great Himalayan Trail. The effort was latest in the former Nepali porter's attempt to highlight ill-effects of climate change on Himalayas and especially Nepal, one of the most vulnerable countries to global warming.

Apa too is a victim of climate change. The former farmer lost his land and belongings to a glacial lake outburst in 1985 and was forced to become a porter to mountain expeditions to make ends meet. He climbed Everest for the first time in 1990.

As someone who has witnessed climate change first hand, Apa wanted to raise awareness about the threat posed by mountain communities in Nepal and how eco-tourism could help them cope better with the effects like erratic rainfall, flashfloods, drought and receding glaciers.

The Great Himalayan Trail organised by Kathmandu-based Himalayan Climate Initiative was part of that initiative.

"The trail gave me an opportunity to see my country, interact with thousands and hear their experiences. Collective effort is needed to tackle climate change and promote sustainable eco-tourism," said Apa, a resident of Salt Lake City, USA.

Apa and the team from HCI would compile the comprehensive data, photos and videos collected during the trip and share them with Nepal government, donor agencies and private players dealing with climate change and eco-tourism.