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with Stefan Nestler

Highest court of Nepal scraps Everest record

Mount Everest

The Supreme Court of Nepal, the highest court in the Himalayan state, does not recognize the supposedly fastest ascent of Mount Everest. There was no evidence that Pemba Dorje Sherpa really ascended on 21 May 2004 in just eight hours and 10 minutes from the base camp on the south side of the highest mountain in the world to the summit at 8,850 meters, the court said, adding that there was no summit picture, nor could another climber confirm that Pemba Dorje had been at the top that day. The court said that the record was now back to Lakpa Gelu Sherpa, who had reached the summit on 26 May 2003 in ten hours and 56 minutes.

Long dispute

Pemba Dorje Sherpa with record certificate

The two Sherpas have been arguing about the record for 14 years. First, Pemba Dorje had set a new best time on 23 May 2003, climbing up in 12 hours and 45 minutes, which Lakpa Gelu had undercut by barely two hours only three days later. Pemba doubted Lakpa’s time and demanded an official investigation. The Ministry of Tourism looked into the case and acknowledged Lakpa Gelu’s time. A year later, Pemba Dorje presented his new best time, which was also listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

“Not impossible, but unlikely”

Now it was Lakpa who accused Pemba of lying – and who enjoyed a late legal success with his appeal before the Supreme Court today. Elisabeth Hawley, the now 94-year-old legendary chronicler of mountaineering in the Himalayas, also expressed her skepticism about the record time of eight hours and ten minutes in 2004. “Pemba Dorje doesn’t have any substantiation. He says he got to the summit at 2 am and not a soul was there,” the American then said. “The weather conditions were dreadful, which doesn’t make it impossible but unlikely.”



29. November 2017 | 14:38