Woman climbs Everest for record 10th time

At the age of 48, Lhakpa Sherpa has climbed Mount Everest for the 10th time, but all her life she has been rising to challenges and meeting them.

Her 10-time achievement, reported by her brother and confirmed by a Nepalese official, makes her the first woman to do so.

The Nepalese single mother was born in a cave, had no formal education and worked as a janitor.

She last made the 8,848.86m (29,031.69ft) ascent in 2018.

“I felt like I’d reached my dream when I reached Everest’s summit for the first time,” she told the BBC ahead of Thursday’s climb.

“I thought to myself, ‘No more just being a housewife!’

“I felt like I’d changed Sherpa culture, the status of Sherpa women and Nepali women. I enjoyed being outside of my home and I wanted to share that feeling with all women.”

Lhakpa was chosen by the BBC as one of its 100 most inspirational and influential women for 2016.

News of her 10th summit was broken by her brother, Mingma Gelu Sherpa, who said she had reached the top at 06:15 (00:30 GMT). Nepali tourism official, Bhishma Kumar Bhattarai, confirmed the report for Reuters news agency.

Speaking from base camp earlier, her youngest daughter, Shiny, 15, told the BBC she was excited and keenly watching her mother’s progress.

“I look up to my mum,” she said. “She has achieved so much even though she had nothing.”

However, Lhakpa’s hard work and achievements have yet to translate into wealth and recognition.

She began life in a village more than 4,000m (13,000ft) above sea level in the Makalu region of eastern Nepal. She was a member of the Sherpa ethnic group, descended from nomadic Tibetans, who were used to living in hostile high altitudes.

“I was born in a cave,” she said, breaking into laughter. “I don’t even know my date of birth. My passport says I am 48.”

“I remember having to walk for hours, sometimes carrying my brothers to school, only to be turned away when I got there. At the time, girls were not allowed to go to school.”

Agriculture was the mainstay for her village, which had no electricity. What it did have was a certain magical neighbour. –BBC/Reuters

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