In what has become another spring time ritual on Everest, legendary mountain guide Apa Sherpa is returning to Nepal once again this year to make a bid on the tallest mountain on the planet. If successful, he'll have stood on top of Everest 21 times, extending his own record in the process.
The unassuming Apa, who now makes his home in Utah here in the States, set out for his homeland last Friday, bidding goodbye to friends and family for the next two months. He says that while he would prefer to stay home, where he is safe with his wife and children, he knows that he can help Nepal, a country he loves, by traveling to Everest.
This time out, Apa will be part of a study that is being conducted by the University of Utah. He'll be joined on the trek to Base Camp by friend Terrell Pool, and both men will be outfitted with heart monitors and oximeters to record how their bodies react differently to altitude. Obviously Apa has learned to live and work in the thin air, and his readings will be compared to Pool's, who describes himself as a "guy off the street."
Personally, I'm glad to see Apa back on Everest this year. I had speculated a bit that he might call it a career after nabbing his 20th summit last season, but it seems he isn't finished yet. Much like the past few years, he'll be hoping to raise awareness and funds for the Apa Sherpa Foundation, an organization he founded to help improve education in Nepal.
Good luck on number 21 Apa!
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