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UK climber sets record for most Mount Everest summits by a non-Nepali

<i>Niranjan Shrestha/AP</i><br/>Kenton Cool
Niranjan Shrestha/AP
Kenton Cool

By Lilit Marcus

(CNN) — British mountaineer Kenton Cool has set a record for the most Mount Everest summits by a non-Nepali after reaching the top of the world’s highest mountain for the 17th time.

Cool reached the peak alongside Dorjee Gyelzen Sherpa, a local guide who has himself summitted both Everest and K2 multiple times, and Richard Walker, executive chairman of the Iceland grocery store chain in the UK.

According to a post on Cool’s Instagram account, the trio reached the top of Everest at 1:30 am British Summer Time, which is 6:15 am Nepal time.

“Conditions on the summit push were incredibly cold, leading to multiple tech failures with the tracker/comms going down,” reads the post. “They are now resting at Camp 4 before heading back down the mountain.”

It has been a week of records on Everest, which is most commonly climbed in May.

On Monday, 46-year-old Pasang Dawa Sherpa reached the mountain’s apex for the 26th time, tying his countryman Kami Rita Sherpa for the number of all-time ascents.

The tie only lasted for two days, though, as Kami Rita then successfully summitted for the 27th time on Wednesday.

Mountaineering tourism is a huge revenue driver for the country, despite concerns about potential overcrowding on Everest, which has led to safety risks.

A viral photograph taken in 2019 showed a “traffic jam” line of climbers waiting their turn to make the final ascent to the peak.

This year, Nepal issued 463 climbing permits to international tourists, its highest number ever. The largest groups represented were the U.S. and China.

In 2018, the Nepali government banned foreigners from climbing Everest alone. Then, earlier this year, they banned all solo trekking throughout the country.

“When you are traveling solo, in case of emergencies there is no one to help you,” Mani R. Lamichhane, Director of the Nepal Tourism Board, told CNN about the decision. “It is fine if they are traveling in the cities, but in the remote mountains, the infrastructure is not adequate.”

One longtime Mount Everest guide, Adrian Ballinger, founder of Alpenglow Expeditions, told CNN he is no longer taking clients to the mountain due to concerns about overcrowding.

“Unfortunately, when accidents do happen on the mountain, more often than not the tragedy tends to strike the Nepalese workers who are there supporting foreign climbers,” Ballinger told CNN.

“The dramatic increase in numbers, specifically inexperienced climbers led by inexperienced guides and guide companies, has created a tinderbox of a situation where big accidents are inevitable when they could be avoidable. All we can do is fight and advocate for the increased regulation of the mountaineering industry in Nepal.”

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