The AT50: Mountaineer Apa Sherpa (#17)

On top of the world 21 times…and counting

Age: 53
Sports: Mountaineering
Highlights: Summited Mount Everest more times than any other person (21); led the first expedition to complete the 1,700-kilometer (1,056-mile) Great Himalaya Trail across the Nepalese Himalayas
Quote: "You can not put a price on or evaluate dignity and honor. So, I would definitely choose medals."
Fact: Sherpa and his brother did not say a word to congratulate each other when they summitted Mount Everest, because there is not enough oxygen to speak at the elevation of the summit.
AT50 Point Total: 43

Apa Sherpa—nicknamed "Super Sherpa"—is unique among famous Everest summiteers in that he never dreamed of climbing it. In fact, it was his father's untimely death that forced him into working on the mountain as a 12-year-old boy. His village, Thame, Nepal, was only 20 miles from Everest, so he went to work as a porter for expedition trips in order to provide for his mother and five siblings. As such, he moves up and down the mountain with a worker's efficiency, hauling heavy loads at lung-searing altitudes with grace a good humor. In 2011, he touched the top of the world for the 21st time, more than anyone else in the world.

Today, Sherpa lives in Draper, Utah with his wife, where they're providing a better life for their three children. But he still returns to Nepal every spring to climb Mount Everest, save for last spring, when he led the first expedition to complete a trek of the 1,056-mile Great Himalaya Trail spanning the Nepalese Himalayas.
—Brian Berkovitz

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