Lakpa Gelu (Nepali: ल्हाक्पा घेलु) (born June 23, 1967), often spelled Lhakpa, is a Nepalese Sherpa climber from Jubing - 1, KhariKhola, Solukhumbu, Nepal. He is known for holding a world record for the fastest climbing of Mount Everest (the world's tallest mountain at 8,848 meters, known to the Nepalese as "Sagarmatha") in only 10 hours 56 minutes and 46 seconds. Gelu's record-breaking trip was his tenth trip to the summit of the mountain.
Lhakpa Gelu was born around June 23, 1967  in the Solukhumbu of Nepal. The ethnic Sherpa community in Nepal does not record exact birth dates, though, so it is impossible to know his precise birth date.
Lhakpa Gelu comes from a family of climbers. His older brother died in 1991 while climbing Annapurna, and his youngest brother has also climbed Mount Everest. He is married to Fulli and has three children—Ang Dawa, Nima, and Tashi.
In December 2006, Lhakpa Gelu moved to Utah. Despite his mountaineering accomplishments, Lhakpa struggled financially, as Sherpas are paid far less than Western guides. In Utah, he had difficulty finding work as a mountain guide, so instead he had to work at a coffee house, installing signs, and delivering pizzas while searching for employment as an expedition guide.
Speed climb of Everest
Gelu started for the summit at 5:00 p.m. on May 25, 2003, and reached on the summit at 3:56:46 a.m. on May 26. He returned to Base Camp at 11:20 a.m. on the 26th. (It is also reported that upon reaching the top, Gelu hoisted the Nepalese flag on a 6-foot-tall (1.8 m) brass pole.) The total time of his climb from Base Camp to the summit and back to Base Camp was 18 hours 20 minutes.
Lakpa Gelu was the climbing Sardar of the 12-member "Jubiläums Expedition Mt. Everest 2003." He began his ascent of Everest from the Southeast Ridge under the leadership of Eckhard Schmitt, a 56-year-old mountaineer from Schaftlach, Germany.
Nearly one year later, on May 21, 2004, Pemba Dorjie surpassed Gelu's record, reaching the top in 8 hours and 10 minutes.On November 28, the Supreme Court of Nepal officially invalidated Pemba Dorje Sherpa’s claim that, in 2004, he ascended Everest in 8 hours and 10 minutes, setting the fastest known time on the world’s highest peak, according to Nepalese media reports. The decision, which restores the record to its previous holder, ends a 14-year dispute between Sherpa climbers and highlights the dubious and often arbitrary practice of claiming speed records on the world’s highest mountains.
The debate over Everest’s fastest known time stretches back at least to May 22, 2003, when Pemba Dorje Sherpa claimed to have summited from the mountain’s south side in 12 hours and 45 minutes. However, his record was broken just three days later by Lakpa Gelu Sherpa, who recorded a summit time—verified by a fellow climber—of 10 hours and 56 minutes on the same route. Pemba Dorje initially disputed this claim, then returned the following season and, on May 21, 2004, claimed to summit Everest in 8 hours and 10 minutes, a shockingly fast time that earned him a Guinness World Record title, which stood for 13 years.
“I think [in 2004] there were a lot of eyebrows raised,” says Alan Arnette, an Everest veteran and longtime mountaineering blogger. “That seemed a little aggressive, but is it impossible? Probably not.”
Shortly after Pemba Dorje reset the fastest known time, Lakpa Gelu challenged the veracity of his record. Lakpa Gelu and other skeptics pointed to the fact that no photographic evidence exists to support Pemba Dorje’s claim, no one climbed with him to verify the summit, and the harsh weather on May 21, 2004, would likely have prevented a successful summit attempt. This body of evidence—or lack thereof—led Lakpa Gelu in 2013 to appeal to the Nepalese Supreme Court, which ruled last week in his favor, ending what Arnette calls a “turf battle.”
Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation, which issued a certificate acknowledging Pemba Dorje’s record in 2004, will reportedly act in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling, according to the Himalayan Times. It is expected that Pemba Dorje will soon be stripped of his record by Nepal’s Department of Tourism and that Lakpa Gelu will be formally recognized as having set the Everest speed record.
But Lakpa Gelu’s speed record is not the only fastest known time currently acknowledged on the world’s highest mountain. Records have been claimed on different routes—the North Face from the Tibetan side, for instance—and under different circumstances. In 1996, Italian climber Hans Kammerlander went from the north side’s Advanced Base Camp to the summit without oxygen in 17 hours. On May 22, 2017, Spanish ski mountaineer and ultrarunner Kilian Jornet ascended Everest’s North Face from Base Camp without the use of oxygen and fixed ropes (both of which Lakpa Gelu and Pemba Dorje used), and then returned to Advanced Base Camp in a mere 26 hours, setting a fastest known time for such an attempt. But to compare Jornet’s ascent to Lakpa Gelu’s would be futile. The mountaineers used different techniques and climbed from different sides of the mountain. And in Jornet’s case, no previous speed record existed on the route.
Moreover, Pemba Dorje’s record is not the first speed record to be disputed by fellow climbers. In 1978, when Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler made the first summit of Everest without supplemental oxygen, Sherpas including Tenzing Norgay (who made the first-ever ascent of Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary) doubted that it was possible. And even mountaineers as accomplished as the late Ueli Steck have had their records challenged. In 2014, when he claimed to have summited Annapurna solo—a feat for which he won the Piolets d’Or award—the legendary climber lost his camera in a small avalanche and did not carry a GPS. With little proof to support Steck’s claim, some people in the mountaineering community doubted it ever happened. Even Jornet’s Everest record from last May has been challenged by skeptics, Arnette says.
Setting speed records is an increasingly popular trend—whether it be on Himalayan peaks or the Appalachian Trail—and come climbing season on Everest next spring, we will likely see another attempt. “Most likely it will be a Sherpa,” Arnette says. “Let’s hope they bring their GPS and camera.”
Nepal | March 09, 2018
The Himalayan Times > Kathmandu > Everesteer Pemba Dorje Sherpa to be stripped of Guinness World Record Everesteer Pemba Dorje Sherpa to be stripped of Guinness World Record Published: November 29, 2017 7:54 pm On: Kathmandu
Pemba Dorje Sherpa with the Guinness World Records Certificate of the fastest Everest summit. Photo: Pemba Dorje Sherpa/Facebook
KATHMANDU: A Sherpa climber who holds the Guinness World Record in Mt Everest climbing for 13 years is all set to lose his title after the Supreme Court invalidated the claims he made to the government authorities while obtaining a summit certificate.
A joint bench of Justices Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana and Dambar Bahadur Shahi yesterday issued a verdict to quash the government’s decision, saying Pemba Dorje Sherpa of Rolwaling, Dolakha, failed to produce substantial proof to authenticate his claim of climbing the world’s highest peak in eight hours and 10 minutes on 21 May, 2004.
The apex court issued an order seeking annulment of the fastest Mt Everest ascent record maintained in the name of Pemba Dorje after another climber Lakpa Gelu Sherpa, who also claimed the summit record with a time of 10 hours and 56 minutes in 2003, challenged Pemba Dorje’s claim.
The SC also found that the mountaineering division under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation issued a summit certificate to Sherpa without verifying his claims as per the Tourism Act and the Mountaineering Regulation.
Senior advocates Hari Shankar Niraula and Bhairab Raj Pant pleaded for the petitioner while deputy attorney Kiran Poudel defended the government’s move before the court.
“Now, Lakpa Gelu holds the world record of the fastest Everest summiteer,” according to Khojindra Prasad Ghimire, who was present on behalf of Sherpa before the court. Lakpa Gelu Sherpa had filed a case at SC against MoCTCA, Pemba Dorje and two others in December, 2013.
The summit time is generally counted once a climber leaves from the base camp for the summit and returns. Many veteran climbers considered that climbing Mt Everest in eight or 10 hours was a mere joke.
There were no liaison officer’s report as well as photographic evidence to show that Sherpa was at the top of Mt Everest within the stated timeframe, SC order stated.
The Guinness World Records had also awarded Sherpa with the certificate of the fastest climber after ‘thoroughly verifying’ his claims in 2004. “I am not aware of the SC order,” Sherpa, who had climbed Mt Everest along with another record holder climber Apa Sherpa in 2004, reacted. Petitioner Lakpa Gelu, who is now in US, was not available for comment.
It is almost certain that the Sherpa mountaineer will be formally stripped of his title of the world’s fastest Mt Everest summitteer soon.
“The Department of Tourism will act as per the court ruling,” DOT’s Director General Dinesh Bhattarai said, adding, “The DoT has not formally received the court order.”
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In 2007, Lhakpa climbed Everest to raise money for an elementary school in his hometown in Nepal and to increase public awareness of the contributions of the Sherpa people to Himalayan mountaineering.
Gelu owns a expedition/trekking company called Adventure Ascents, adventureascents.com. He guides on several peaks around the world with a focus on Himalayan expeditions and trekking.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
- List of Mount Everest summiters by number of times to the summit
- List of Mount Everest records
- Lhakpa Sherpa (female Everest mountaineer)
- List of Mount Everest guides
He is also involved in a social work by donating a fund to a public in Solukhumbu.