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Sherpa Poised to be First Atop Seven Summits

Lakpa Rita Sherpa will become the first Sherpa climber ever to reach the top of the Seven Summits—the highest points on each continent—with an ascent this weekend of Kilimanjaro
By Staff - February 13th, 2009

Editor's Note, 2/14/2009: Lakpa was successful, climbing to Kilimanjaro's summit on Feb. 14, see details.

Lakpa Rita Sherpa left his home in Seattle on February 7th bound for Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in the hopes of doing what no Sherpa has done before—climb the Seven Summits—the highest peaks on every continent. The 43-year old climber, who has lived near Seattle for almost a decade, hopes to summit the 19,340-foot peak on February 13th. The six-day climb will be the last and perhaps easiest of the Seven Summits for the experienced mountain guide.

“I have been thinking to complete the Seven Summits for a long, long time,” said Lakpa Rita Sherpa, who is a professional mountain guide for Alpine Ascents International ( “No Sherpa has had the opportunity to do this, and I am lucky to have the chance.” His effort to climb the Seven Summits over the years has been supported by Sherpa Adventure Gear, Alpine Ascents International, and Hafsa Al Ulama, a client and the United Arab Emirate’s best-known woman mountain climber.

Lakpa Rita Sherpa never imagined climbing the Seven Summits until he came to the United States in 2000. “Before I immigrated here, I didn’t even know the meaning of the Seven Summits,” he explained. The term and challenge was popularized in the mid-1980s; approximately 200 people are known to have stood atop the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.

Lakpa Rita Sherpa, who has been climbing since 1984, knows many of those notable mountains intimately, especially Mount Everest. He first climbed the world’s tallest mountain in October 1990, and has since reached its top eleven times, always working as a guide.

Nearly ten years would pass before he would ascend to the top of Alaska’s Mount McKinley (Denali) in June 2000. Just fifteen days later, he stood atop the summit again.

Next, he traveled to South America’s Aconcagua in Argentina for his first climb, in December 2001. He spent six years there guiding aspiring summiteers to the top of the 22,841-foot peak, and during that period, reached the top 22 times.

January 2004 took Lakpa Rita Sherpa to Antarctica’s Vinson Massif, where he guided two trips to the summit. It’s a trip he knows is prohibitive for other Nepalese climbers due to the sheer expense of reaching the far-flung continent.

As a professional guide for Seattle based Alpine Ascents International he keeps a busy schedule of some twenty trips per year, including Everest, the 8000-meter Cho Oyu on the border of Tibet and Nepal, Aconcagua and more than a dozen trips in the Cascades. He is one of the few Sherpas working as a full-time mountain guide around the world, and he is considered among the best Sirdars in the Khumbu for his role in organizing the Sherpa teams that support Himalayan expeditions. He is respected the world over for his far-reaching expertise in the mountains, as well as his charm and humility.

In 2008, Lakpa Rita Sherpa reached two summits: Mount Elbrus in Russia and 7,310-foot Kosciuszko in Australia – on the latter peak he was accompanied by his wife Fur Dikee Sherpa. “She didn’t want me to go by myself,” he said, even though it is only a “little hill.” It is the only time a family member has climbed with Lakpa, although his three Nepalese-born children, who joined their parents in the United States in 2004, have been to the Everest base camp with their father.

As for Kilimanjaro, which might be a walk in the park for the seasoned mountain guide, Lakpa Rita Sherpa says with a laugh, “It could be easy or maybe difficult. I don’t know! I haven’t been there.”

He should know soon enough. And once he’s made his way up the slopes of the storied peak, the special honor will be shared with the Sherpa that are respected the world over for their quiet contributions to mountaineering and their unsung leadership to the top of the world’s most challenging summits.

For Lakpa Rita Sherpa, it is the joy of climbing that he thinks of first. “Nepalese people are happy to climb,” said Lakpa Rita Sherpa. “A lot of people think we climb just to make a living. But we climb for fun, too.”
Editor’s Note: Climber Joe Puryear will accompany Lakpa Rita Sherpa and will photograph and blog about the climb at Sherpa Adventure Gear (, a manufacturer of apparel and gear for mountain adventures, is sponsoring the climb of Kilimanjaro.




Article About AC Sherpa

Seven Summits
By Erika Klimecky
I am sitting in a coffee shop talking to a Sherpa. He invites me to join him on his expedition-fundraiser to the summit of Mt Rainier. I have considered this summit before. Last time I really looked into the eye of the mountain and stood on its shoulder, I contemplated the effort involved in reaching the summit. So I think about it again, not really sure I can conceive of such an effort from the seat of a coffee shop. Stories trade, mostly from him to me, and I ask the obvious interview style questions. He invites me to be the designated photographer on his expedition to the base camp of Mt Everest for a function he is performing there. I pause, chuckle and brush it off. It was a courtesy, not an actual invitation, right?
Ang Chhiring Sherpa (AC for short) is a man on a mission. At 14 years old, he moved to Mercer Island, WA from the high Sherpa village of Tapting, Nepal to follow the American Dream. He graduated from Mercer Island High School and has done well for himself, currently running his mountaineering company, Himalayan Sherpa. In his words, he has lived the life of royalty here. As a Nepalese citizen, he is revered by his country, decorated and was given the honor of Nepalese Goodwill Ambassador of 2011 by the Minister of Tourism of Nepal. He is celebrated; he could continue the life of royalty, but he compares that against his memories of the childhood he had in Nepal. “I have lived two lives, one very rich and one very poor, and I prefer 3 simple meals a day and helping my people over living the life of royalty.” His mission is to raise funds for the children of Nepal’s high villages. Those remote villages are often 2 days from any medical facilities and lack schools. The villages in the area where he grew up had one shared hospital that was about a 2 day trek away, and it was the hospital that Ed Hillary built in 1966. His goal is to improve on that.
His first order of business was to put in a dental clinic and provide basic dental care for his home village. But before he could do that, as dental offices require electricity to simply run the instruments, he had to regroup and figure out how to get electricity to such a remote location. He funded a hydroelectric project there, which then allowed the dental clinic to be built. He says “Let’s end the attitude of waiting for governments and leaders to do things for us. Let’s ourselves work to develop our community.” And as a native of that area, he has the will and understanding to empower the people to do just that.
He is a Sherpa, a climber and has seen the summit of Rainier 11 times, and summitted McKinley and Kilimanjaro. He climbed with Sir Edmund Hillary once, even. And through his climbing he has brought much to the people of Nepal.
Between June of 2009 and May of 2010, he summitted each of the 7 continents’ highest peaks; Mt Everest on May 23 2010 was the last of his Seven Summit goal. Not only did he complete it, he is now the speed record holder for the Seven Summits. It took him only 42 climbing days to reach all the summits of each of the seven continents:
Everest (29,029 ft)- Asia
Aconcagua (22,840 ft) - S America
McKinley (20,320 ft) - N America
Kilimanjaro (19340 ft) - Africa
Elburs (18,481 ft) -Europe
Vinson Massif (16,067 ft) - Antarctica
Cartensz Pyramid (16,023 ft) - Oceania
Kosciuszko (7,310 ft) - Australia
Note: If you counted those, you might notice that there are 8 summits instead of 7. There is an ongoing discussion whether Australia’s Kosciuszko (on the continent) or Carstensz Pyramid (higher, but not officially on the continent, yet on the continental plate) should be the official peak counted as the highest peak in that area. Since the discussion continues, most Seven Summits climbers opt to climb both and skirt the debate. So AC Sherpa completed the 8 summits in 42 days of total climbing time. Just because I love statics like this, I went to the trouble to figure his approximate elevation gain. From base camp to summit of each of the 8 summits, when all added together comes to almost 63,000 vertical feet or 19130 meters. That’s just the up part. Wait, I need a moment just to think about that….
I contemplate the grandeur of his accomplishment. The sheer vertical feet alone is something I cannot comprehend. The days, the depths the freezing cold. I asked him about Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America and he said “That mountain is the coldest, windiest mountain I ever tasted.” I marvel, since he has the experience to give the sentiment due gravity. Then I listen to the rest of the tale of how he summitted while 2 full teams, one American and one British were turned back for wind and weather.
As he and I sit in the coffee shop, a white haired, very fit older lady recognizes him and stops, “Oh, AC, my boy, how are you? Are you going up again soon?” He nods and indicates that March is fast approaching. “Are you taking oxygen this time, dear?” He grins and nods again. “Oh, good boy…make us proud!” She pats him on the shoulder and totes her latte to a nearby table.
In March he will lead an expedition to the Base Camp of Mt Everest for a series of 3 music concerts. This expedition will raise funds and awareness of the challenges that face the people of the Himalaya due to global warming.
Following that event, his next climbing goal is to reach the summit of Everest 3 times in one season. He will begin that challenge in June.
AC Sherpa is the founder of Seven Summits and the owner of Himalayan
For more on his upcoming Mt Everest Base Camp Concert Expedition or his summer Rainier summit fundraisers
AC Sherpa is the founder of Seven Summits and the owner of Himalayan
For more on his upcoming Mt Everest Base Camp Concert Expedition or his summer Rainier summit fundraisers or,
Please join us for this speaking engagement with his seven summits documentary:
Date: Sunday Feb, 13th Time: 1:00pm to 4pm
Venue: Lumbini Restaurant

For more information, please to contact:

Posted on January 30, 2011 - 7:33am
by Erika Klimecky


Congratulations Lakpa!!! Your climbing inspires us all!

Posted on May 6, 2009 - 1:07pm
by Lenny

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