Ang Rita “The Snow Leopard” has passed away

Ang Rita. (Photo: KATHMANDU POST)

IO – The Nepalese Ang Rita Sherpa, the man who became the first person in the world to climb Mount Everest 10 times without bottled oxygen, has died aged 72. His family said he died in the capital Kathmandu on Monday 21 September. He had brain and liver ailments.

Ang Rita, one of the Sherpa guides who received international popularity for his achievements, has been suffering from health problems for years. He hasn’t even climbed any mountains since setting the Everest record in 1996.

Popularly known as the Snow Leopard, he first reached the summit of the world’s tallest mountain in 1983.

Fellow climbers paid tribute to him following news of his death on Monday.

“He was as active as snow leopards on the mountains and it was unique,” Ang Teshring Sherpa, Nepal’s veteran mountaineer and former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association told the BBC.

“That was why the mountaineering fraternity decided to accord him with this title [of Snow Leopard] as an honour.”

Mountaineers said Ang Rita was an inspiration for climbers and Nepal’s climbing training courses have also drawn from his experiences and skills.

“Our mountain tourism owes him big time,” Santa Bir Lama, the current president of NMA, told the BBC.

Nepal’s tourism department said his contribution to mountaineering would “always be remembered”.

His body has been moved to a monastery in Kathmandu and he will be cremated later this week, reports say.

Descended from Tibetan heritage, the Sherpa community are an ethnic group, indigenous to the Himalayan region. But for many outside Nepal, the word “Sherpa” has become synonymous with those working as mountain guides.

Thousands of people have climbed to the peak of Mount Everest, but doing so without oxygen remains rare.

Sherpa guides are generally considered porters hired by foreign climbers. They carry foreign climbers’ equipment and supplies, dig trails in snow and ice, and help climbers reach the top, usually with little introduction. (rp)