June 17, 2024

Norwegian Woman, Nepali Guide Set Record For Summit Of 14 ‘Super Peaks’

Norwegian climber Kristin Harila during an interview with AFP in May, 2023

A Norwegian woman and her Nepali guide set the record Thursday for the fastest summit of all 14 of the world’s 8,000-metre (26,000-feet) mountains, their team said in a statement.

Kristin Harila and Tenjin Sherpa — known as Lama — completed the feat in three months and one day after summiting Pakistan’s K2, the last peak on their quest.

The record reflects “their unwavering determination, teamwork, and sheer tenacity throughout this monumental endeavour”, the team statement said.

“Harila and Lama’s collaboration has showcased the essence of mountaineering unity, transcending borders and cultures to achieve greatness together.”

The pair surpassed Nepal-born British adventurer Nirmal Purja’s record of six months and six days, set in 2019.

Purja is currently attempting to set the record for the fastest ascent of all 14 peaks without supplemental oxygen.

In her race to set the record, Harila had to summit 12 of the mountains twice, including K2, after delays in securing visas from China to climb Shishapangma — wholly in Tibet — and Cho Oyu, normally climbed from the Chinese side.

More than 40 people have summited the world’s top 14 peaks, only a few of them women.

Last year, despite her proven climbing prowess, 37-year-old Harila struggled to secure sponsors, forcing her to sell her apartment to fund her quest.

“I think to do this project if I was a man would be much easier,” she told AFP in an interview in May.

“It is just different to be a woman in the world, not just with the sponsorships.”

Harila is a native of Vadso, on the Barents Sea in Norway’s northernmost reaches, where the highest point is just 633 metres (2,000 feet).

She did not take to climbing from an early age, dedicating herself to football, handball and cross-country skiing.

It was only in 2015 when she won a trip to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania from her employers — a chain of furniture shops — that she discovered her passion.

Lama, who has been a guide since the age of 16, was Kristin’s companion throughout her record-breaking journey.

“Lama’s invaluable expertise and profound connection with the mountains have been integral to their success in navigating treacherous terrains and facing harsh weather conditions,” the team’s statement said.

Pakistan is home to five of the world’s 14 “super peaks”, and climbing them all is considered the ultimate achievement of any mountaineer.

Besides being far more technically difficult to climb than Everest, K2 has notoriously fickle weather and has only been scaled by 425 people since 1954 — including around 20 women.

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