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Weather blamed in Everest speed record fight
image story

Jun 10, 2004 11: 21 EST
Nepalese officials are investigating the Everest speed ascent record set by Pemba Dorjee Sherpa, after rival Sherpa, Lakpa Gyelu questioned his claim to have raced from BC to the summit in 8 hours and 10 minutes; 2 1/2 hours quicker than the previous record, set by Lakpa Gyelu.

Pemba started at 6 P.M. on 20th May 2004 and reached the summit at 02.10 A.M. on 21st May 2004 according to the Nepali Ministry of Tourism.

Lakpa Gyelu claims that "The weather was so bad that day there is no way [Pemba] could have made the climb."

Pemba, however, said snow that day was confined to base camp and there was no wind, and that above 6,000 meters, the weather was fine.

According to dispatches from that day there seems to have been bands of weather on different levels. Levels around 7000 meters had fog, snow and wind, levels above were calm, but with occasional gusts.

Weather reports for that period predicted a high chance of heavy precipitation below 7500m on the 20th and at all altitudes by 6am on the 21st. Winds were predicted to be moderate.

The government committee plans to take two weeks to review the climb, Tourism Ministry official Shanker Pandey said.

"We have asked both Pemba and those challenging his record to provide us with proof," Pandey said.

Everest speed ascent history

Oct 5, 1990, Marc Batard (no O2): 22 hrs 29 min
Oct 17, 1998, Kaji Sherpa (with O2): 20 hrs 24 min
May 21, 2000, Babu Chiri Sherpa (with O2): 16 hrs 56 min
May 22, 2003, Pemba Dorjie Sherpa (with O2): 12 hrs and 45 min
May 25, 2003, Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa (with O2): 10 hrs 56 min
May 21, 2004, Pemba Dorjie Sherpa (with O2): 8 hrs 10 min

Images of Pemba Dorjee Sherpa and Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa courtesy of BaseCampMD.com.

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