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Half a dozen Nepalis became the first women from their nation to summit Annapurna (8,091 m/26,545 ft) last Friday, when they topped out on the world’s 10th tallest peak alongside a record-setting 67 climbers. Previously, the largest number of climbers summitting the peak in a single day stood at 32, a record set in May 2016.
To add to the feat, two of the six women, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita and Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, managed to climb the Nepalese mountain without using supplementary oxygen. Purnima Shrestha, Dabhuti Sherpa, Sharmila Tamang and the Nepal Mountaineering Association’s vice-president, Maya Sherpa, were the other four Nepali women who made the summit.
Annapurna is often considered one of the world’s deadliest 8,000-meter peaks. It was first climbed by women back in 1978. That year two Americans, Vera Komarkova and Irene Miller, became both the first women summit the peak and the first American women to climb an 8,000er, in a brutal expedition which saw another two women (Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz and Vera Watson) killed, falling to their deaths during their own summit attempt.
Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita, one of the two Nepali women who climbed without oxygen, was named National Geographic’s People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year in 2016, and made the first female ascent of Nangpai Gosum (7,351 m/24,117 ft) in 2006. She, Maya Sherpa, and Dawa Yangzum Sherpa (the other Nepali woman to summit without oxygen) formed a trio that became the first Nepali women to climb K2 (8,611 m/28,251 ft) in 2014. Dawa was also the first Nepali woman to summit Makalu (8,485 m/27,838 ft) in 2019.
“It was very fortunate to have a great team and great weather… So grateful to summit together with my friends and family,” Dawa wrote on Instagram following her climb. She added that it was her first time climbing an 8,000-meter peak without using supplemental oxygen.
“It’s wonderful to see Nepali climbers in their element,” wrote Conrad Anker on his own Instagram.
Also a part of Friday’s 67-person summit blitz, Sirbaz Khan and Abdul Joshi became the first Pakistanis to stand atop Annapurna. Priyanka Mangesh Mohite, meanwhile, became the first Indian woman to summit the peak.