The little great man from Thame has done it once again: he stood atop Mt Everest for a record 15th time at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday. This week has been a very good one for those trying to scale the world’s highest peak as the weather held and was quite favo-urable, though early on, avalanches and few deaths were also reported. Moni Mulepati, a non-Sherpa Nepali woman and a Newari by ethnicity, also rea-ched the word’s highest point a day earlier. The two records have their own significance in the annals of mountaineering history but Apa’s feat will go down as an unparalleled one, an inspiration for the aspiring mountaineers the world over. Mulepati’s achievement, meanwhile, is certain to encourage non-Sherpa natives of Nepal to take up climbing either as a career or hobby. No one had thought at one time that Lhakpa Tenzing Sherpa, a humble kitchen boy back in 1985, would begin climbing as a career that would finally take him to ultimate height, literally.

In the climbing circles, Apa is better known for his faithfulness towards his colleagues and refusal to switch allegiance. His decision not to leave the Swiss team even when National Geographic in January 2002 offered higher salary and perks speaks volumes for the diminutive man’s greatness. Similarly, in the face of odds when his team’s safety was in jeopardy, the peak, however enticing it may have been just a few hundred metres away, never got the better of him. No wonder, safety, is of utmost concern at all times on a mountain renowned so much for its inho-spitality in terms of unpredictable weather conditions. No matter how insignificant it may appear to people outside the mountaineering circles, it makes all the difference between life and death. No one knows this better than Apa himself. Through this and more, he has been doing Nepal proud.

More than anything, fellow mountaineers praise him for his simplicity. To his fellow countrymen, Apa, who was forced to discontinue school due to poverty, is a living embodiment of dedication and faith as intrinsic ingredients of a success story. His greatness achieved through sheer hard work and perseverance should serve as an inspiration to all. Perhaps, the politicos who hobnob and switch allegiance gears at the slightest of opportunity for personal gains must look at this man — and learn.