British climber Kenton Cool has made headlines around the world this week for reaching the summit of Everest for the 16th time, most of all non-Nepalese climbers – but says his title is largely meaningless.

The 48-year-old Cool Mountain Guide first climbed Everest in 2004 and has since made an expedition to the world’s highest peak almost every year.

His 15th summit last year linked him to American Dave Khan on the highest number of non-Nepalese climber peaks, and his last ascent gave him only a title.

But he told AFP he was “surprised” by the attention.

“Actually, it’s not that weird,” he said. “I’m very surprised by the interest in my 16th ascent, given that many Sherpas still have so many ascents.”

Nepali guides – usually ethnic Sherpas from the valleys around Everest – are considered the backbone of the mountaineering industry in the Himalayas because they carry huge risks to transport equipment and food, build ropes and repair stairs.

Most of them have several Mount Everest peaks behind them – Dorje Gjalgen Sherpa, Kula’s longtime partner in Nepalese mountaineering, reached the summit with him for his 20th ascent.

And this month, Nepalese climber Kami Rita Sherpa broke his record for the man with the most Everest peaks with 26 climbs when he opened the route to other climbers.

“People say it’s a world record, it’s not a world record,” Cool said Thursday.

“It’s just that I keep a record that is not a Sherpa, no matter how much it costs, and that, in my opinion, is not so much.”

However, he added that each summit was magical.

“It’s a job, it’s like making money, I’m a guide to Everest. But more than that I love Nepal … and I love the mountains, it has been very kind to me for years ”.

The climber was told he would no longer walk unassisted after a 1996 climbing accident that broke both heel bones, but his mountaineering career has confused predictions.

In 2013, he and Dorje Gjalgen Sherpa became the first people to complete the triple crown of Everest, which includes Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse, in one fell swoop without returning to base camp.

Nepali climbers have long been in the shadow of fans of foreign climbers.

Last year, a team of Nepalese climbers made the first winter ascent to the world’s second-highest peak K2 – Pakistan’s infamous “wild mountain” 8,611 meters (28,251 feet) high.

“In the past, Nepali climbers climbed just for work,” said Ang Zering Sherpa of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. “But the younger generation is educated, many climb by choice and are better known.”

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