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Everest record-man Pemba Dorje Sherpa in jail

Posted: Feb 16, 2006 03:45 pm EST

(Mounteverest.net) Pemba Dorje Sherpa, 28, who holds the record of the fastest ascent on Everest ever, was arrested in Kathmandu 10 days ago, accused of being involved in a swindling scandal. Pemba Dorje has denied all charges and, moreover, has accused the police inspector of forcing him to sign a confession at gunpoint.

From accuser to accused

I have been cheated. I have no involvement in this scandal. Inspector Suresh forced me to sign the paper by threatening me with a pistol on my temple, said Sherpa, according to NepalNews. I had actually gone to the police office to lodge a complaint regarding continuous death threats.

Threats since the Everest record

According to Pemba, his uncle Dwang Sherpa was allegedly killed ten years ago and since then he has been also threatened. Pemba says he had also received threats after he set the current speed record on Everest. Thus he went to the Police station to denounce the harassment but it was him who was finally put behind bars.

2004 rerun?

In 2004, another famous climber - ten time summiteer Mingma Sherpa - was arrested at his house in Bouddha for, suspicious activities and possessing sophisticated communication equipment. Nepali police held him for 24 hours before releasing him. The sophisticated communication equipment that police accused Mingma of having was handheld radios and the unknown people congregating at Mingmas house were Everest climbers.

The speed records

When Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa set out to set an Everest speed ascent record in 2003, he was delayed by the route not being fixed. That's when, coming from nowhere, Pemba Dorje took the record at 12 hrs 45 min, beating late Babus record by an astonishing 4 hours.

When Babus record was set in 2000 everyone thought that it would never be touched, especially since he broke the previous record by over 3 hours. Imagine what everyone thought about Pembas new time. At over four hours faster than Babus record, Pembas feat was likened to Bannisters sub 4-minute mile - or so everyone thought.

Shy and reserved, Lhakpa bided his time. Then late evening a few days later the news came 10 hrs and 56 min. How could anyone ever have though back in 1998 when Kaji Sherpa set the first record at 20 hrs 24 min, that it would almost be chopped in half less than 7 years later. And who would have thought, back then in 1953, that only 50 years later Mount Everest would be scaled in a mere 10 hours.

Yet in 2004 Pemba Dorje Sherpa, ascended Everest again - this time in eight hours and 10 minutes, breaking the record set by Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa.


Pemba reached the summit of Everest at 2:10 am (local time) after leaving base camp at 6 pm. He reported later about the climb:

"When I paused at a mound of rocks I saw some spirits in the form of black shadows coming towards me, stretching their hands and begging for something to eat. I think those were the spirits of the many mountaineers killed during and after their ascent of Mount Everest."

Pemba Dorje Sherpa, 28, from Rolwaling region (Nepal)ascended Everest on May 21, 2004 in eight hours 10 minutes, breaking the record set one year before before by Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa of 10 hours 56 minutes.

"Pemba reached the summit of Everest at 2:10 am (local time) in eight hours 10 minutes after leaving base camp at 6 pm on Thursday evening. He 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.

Nepalese officials had to double-check the ascent record after rival Sherpa Lhakpa Gelu demanded Nepalese officials to investigate the case.

Everest speed records:

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 Dorje 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


Pemba Dorje Sherpa, who holds the record of the fastest ascent on everest ever, was arrested in Kathmandu 10 days ago, accused of being involved in a swindling scandal. Image of Pemba courtesy of Everest Summiteers Association - background image of Everest, ExplorersWeb files.