Lhakpa Tenzing Sherpa (born circa 1960 in Thame) is called Apa, but many just know him as The Super Sherpa. Apa made history in 2011 when he became the first person ever to summit Mt. Everest twenty-one times.
Apa is widely recognized as one of the greatest living mountaineers but ironically, becoming a successful climber was never a goal for him. He wanted to become a medical doctor but fate sent him in another direction. At the age of 12, following the untimely death of his father, Apa quit school and began working as an expedition porter to earn money for his family.
Over the years, Apa has worked in the capacity of a porter, a high altitude climber, a sirdar, and a climbing leader for expeditions. His simple philosophy is that Everest will always be there and regardless of schedules, it is more important to keep all team members and Sherpas safe.
The only season in which Apa did not make plans to climb Mt. Everest, was in 1996. His wife convinced him to take a break from climbing and to help with work on their home. As a result of the decision to stay in Thame, Apa turned down an offer to climb once again with his friend Rob Hall. Later on, Apa was devastated to learn that severe weather hit Mt. Everest during the expedition and several lives were lost, including that of his long-time climbing friend, Rob. Apa has said that his wife’s insistence for him to stay at home very likely saved his life.
In 1997, he was back on the mountain and continued his high-altitude work until he completed his twenty-first summit of Everest in 2011. After that, Apa felt it was time to retire from mountaineering. His love for outdoor activity didn’t fade, however. The following year, he set another impressive record by participating in the first-ever expedition across the Great Himalayan Trail. The trek crossed from east to west and passed through 20 Himalayan districts. From January to mid-April of 2012, Apa and his team covered more than 1,700km on foot. During that time, the trekkers worked tirelessly to raise awareness with local people about dangerous climate changes in the Himalayas.
The impact of climate change and conservation of the Everest region are two very important topics for Apa. He is most passionate, though, about education and the options it affords youth. He knows that he would have had a different life had he been able to obtain quality education as a young person. Due to those beliefs, Apa has worked hard to provide educational opportunities for his own children.
Apa has been married to Yangjin Sherpa since 1988. Along with two sons and a daughter, they moved to the United States in 2006 and now reside in the state of Utah.
One of Apa’s greatest legacies will be the Apa Sherpa Foundation, which he created for the improvement of education and economic development in Nepal.
1972 (Approximately this year) Began work as a porter to help earn money for his family.
1985 Joined an Annapurna expedition working as a cook.
1987 Worked as a porter for an Annapurna expedition.
1988 Began working with Mt. Everest expedition groups.
1989 Continued climbing with Mt. Everest expeditions.
1990 With a New Zealand expedition group, summited Mt. Everest for the first time with other first-timers, Rob Hall, Gary Ball, and Peter Hillary.
1991-1994 Apa continued making annual Everest summits (achieving two summits in 1992).
1995 Summited Mt. Everest together with his brother Apa Rita Sherpa. They became the first two brothers to summit together.
1997-2000 Apa continued making annual summits of Mt. Everest.
2001 Due to bad weather, Apa had to cancel his plans to climb Mt. Everest.
2002-2006 Continued summiting Everest each year.
2007 Summited Mt. Everest three times.
2008 This was the first year that there was an Eco-Everest expedition and Apa was part of that group. The expedition worked to remove debris from the mountain and also to bring worldwide attention to climate change issues. This was Apa’s eighteenth summit.
2009 Summited Mt. Everest.
2010 Achieved his 20th summit.
2011 On May 11, Apa summited Mt. Everest and became the first person
in the world to do so 21 times.
2012 Trekked the Great Himalayan Trail.