I’ll be back: Apa Sherpa

KATHMANDU: The Nepalese "Super Sherpa" who conquered Mount Everest for a record 19th time said on Monday he wanted to climb the world's highest peak again in his campaign to raise environmental awareness.

Apa Sherpa, 49, returned to Kathmandu after reaching the summit on May 21 when he broke his own record for the number of successful attempts on the 8,848-metre (29,028-foot) mountain.

The expedition he led was designed to highlight the damage that global warming has done to Everest and also to pick up rubbish discarded by previous climbers.

"I have no plans of announcing a retirement," Apa told reporters at Kathmandu airport as well-wishers greeted him with Buddhist scarves.

"I am willing to climb to clean up Everest the next year as well. I saw that the glaciers on the Everest are retreating. It made me worried.

When on the summit last week, Apa furled a banner that read: "Stop Climate Change, Let the Himalayas Live!"

Apa said his expedition team has collected five tonnes of litter as part of their efforts to return the mountain to a pristine condition.

"We have only one Everest so we should all work together in keeping the mountain environment clean," he said.

The trash included parts of a crashed helicopter, old ropes and tents, ladders, metal cans and climbing gear.

"There is still lots of garbage up there and I want to bring it down," he said.

Apa, who bagged his first Everest summit in 1990, started his mountaineering career as a porter in his early teens.

His latest successful climb coincided with that of British adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who reached the summit on his third attempt.

More than 100 climbers have already made it to the top this spring season, in which 29 expedition teams are in action, mountaineering officials said.

Since it was first climbed in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the mountain has been conquered more than 3,000 times.