Acclaimed mountain guide Lakpa Rita Sherpa confirmed his place in Sherpa and mountaineering history on February 13th when he stood atop Mount Kilimanjaro and became the first Sherpa to climb the Seven Summits—the highest peaks on every continent. Africa’s highest peak was the last of the summits for the 43-year old Sherpa man, who has been climbing since 1984 and first climbed Mount Everest in 1990. He was joined on the five-day journey to the top of the snow-capped 19,340-foot Kilimanjaro by Leavenworth, Washington alpinist Joe Puryear, who has documented the venture at www.climbafrica.blogspot.com. Sherpa Adventure Gear (www.sherpaadventuregear.com), a Renton, Washington manufacturer of apparel for mountain sports, sponsored the climb of Kilimanjaro.
The experienced mountain guide found Kilimanjaro easy compared to other high altitude ascents, but “extremely beautiful and interesting,” Lakpa Rita Sherpa wrote in an e-mail. “The route we climbed was very convoluted with much back and forth and lots of up and down. However the descent was straight down.” He was surprised that “it was very, very crowded on the mountain,” noting he and Puryear passed over 200 people the morning they reached the summit. They arrived at dawn on February 13th after a four-hour climb from their final camp with weather that was very cold but clear. To celebrate at the summit, "we danced and sang a traditional song with our local partners," wrote Lakpa Rita Sherpa.