14 peaks record climbers get heroes’ welcome in Nepal

KATHMANDU (AFP): Record-breaking mountaineering duo Kristin Harila and Tenjin “Lama” Sherpa were greeted with a heroes’ welcome in Nepal on Saturday after the pair successfully conquered the world’s highest peaks.

The Norwegian climber and her Nepali guide set the record last month for the fastest summit of all 14 of the world’s 8,000-metre (26,000-feet) mountains, completing the feat in only 92 days.

The pair surpassed Nepal-born British adventurer Nirmal Purja’s 2019 record of six months and six days.

Sherpas performed religious rites and a band played songs as the team arrived in Kathmandu, while 700 well-wishers held out flowers and waved national flags.

The pair, joined by other record-holding climbers, stood on a van adorned with garlands and took a victory tour around the city.

“I don’t think I will climb any eight thousand metres for a while,” Harila told the crowd.

“I will be outside and come back to Nepal again, but not in this way.”

Harila is a native of Vadso, on the Barents Sea in Norway’s northernmost reaches, where the highest point is just 633 metres (2,000 feet).

In her race to the record, Harila had to repeat the summit of 12 mountains, including K2, after delays in securing visas from China to climb Shishapangma – wholly in Tibet – and Cho Oyu, normally climbed from the Chinese side.

Lama, who has been a guide since the age of 16, was Harila’s companion throughout her record-breaking journey.

More than 40 people have summited the world’s top 14 peaks, but only a few of them are women.

“If you go and look at history, it’s been all about men,” Harila told AFP in an interview last week.

“I haven’t been thinking too much about the record,” she added.

“For me, I wanted to change something.”