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Sherpa Guide Appa Sets Mount Everest Record

A Sherpa guide whose friends have refused to let him retire got his 16th view of the world from its highest peak Friday — breaking his own previous record.

Appa, who like most Sherpas uses only one name, reached Mount Everest's 29,035-foot peak while guiding a group of international climbers, said Rajendra Pandey, an official at Nepal's Mountaineering Department.

He reached the summit at around 11 a.m. local time and was returning to the lower camps, Pandey said, citing reports from the base camp.

The modest, slightly built 46-year-old guide is one of the most respected climbers in the mountaineering community. He has tried to retire twice but friends and clients persuaded him to continue climbing.

CountryWatch: Nepal

Appa, who last reached the top of Everest last year, tops several other Sherpas who have reached the peak 10 times.

He says his wife does not like to see him risk his life, but the family depends on the once-a-year climb, for which he earns about $1,500.

Officials were still waiting for details about the other climbers who scaled Everest on Friday.

Improved weather conditions on the mountain allowed at least 42 climbers to reach the world's highest peak from the Nepalese side on Thursday. Fifteen others reached the summit a day earlier.

Teams using the popular south route to the peak had been holed up for days at base camp because of heavy snow and high winds.

Climbers on the northern side in Tibet, meanwhile, have experienced better conditions and were able to begin summit attempts earlier.

May is considered the best month to climb Everest. Climbers in Nepal have to complete their mission by May 31 before the weather deteriorates during monsoon season.

Like most Sherpas, Appa grew up in the foothills of Everest, and began carrying equipment and supplies for trekkers and mountaineers at an early age.

Appa first climbed Everest in 1989 with a New Zealand team led by experienced climber Rob Hall, one of eight mountaineers who died during a storm in 1996 while approaching the summit.

Sherpas were mostly yak herders and traders living in the Himalayas until Nepal opened its borders to tourism in 1950. Their stamina and knowledge of the mountains makes them expert guides and porters for foreign mountaineers.

Since New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953, more than 1,400 climbers have scaled the peak. About 180 people have died trying.