Lakpa Gelu

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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.

Personal life[edit]

Lhakpa Gelu was born around June 23, 1967 [1] 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.[2] He is married to Fulli and has three children—Ang Dawa, Nima, and Tashi.[3]

In December 2006, Lhakpa Gelu moved to Utah.[4] Despite his mountaineering accomplishments, Lhakpa struggled financially, as Sherpas are paid far less than Western guides.[4] 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.[5]

In 2008, Lhakpa began working as a guide for Alpine Ascents International, where he has guided expeditions up Mount Rainier and Aconcagua.[6][7]

He is also involved in a social work by donating a fund to a public in Solukhumbu.

Speed climb of Everest[edit]

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.

The record he beat (12 hours 45 minutes) was set just a few days earlier on May 23, 2003 by 25-year-old Pemba Dorjie, a Sherpa from Rolwaling Himal.

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."

Other ascents[edit]

In addition to over a dozen Everest summits, Lhakpa has also summitted Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam in the Himalayas.[6]

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.[8][9]

Guiding-Adventure Ascents[edit]

Gelu owns an expedition/trekking company called Adventure Ascents, He guides on several peaks around the world with a focus on Himalayan expeditions and trekking.

See also[edit]


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  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2015-06-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2010-05-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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