KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Hundreds of government officials, mountaineers, fellow Sherpa guides and supporters gathered in Nepal on Wednesday to mourn the veteran guide who was the first person to climb Mount Everest 10 times.
The body of Ang Rita was cremated Wednesday according to Buddhist rituals two days after he died. He was 72 and had been ill with liver and brain diseases for months.
The body wrapped in Buddhist flags, flowers and cream scarf was taken on a decorated truck from the Sherpa Monastery in the outskirts of Kathmandu to cremation grounds in the heart of the city.
Hundreds lined up at the monastery to pay their last respects, covering the body with the scarf and flowers. Among them was Nepal's tourism minister Yogesh Bhattarai.
“This is an irreplaceable loss to not just Nepal but also for the entire mountaineering community. He has been the reason for Nepalese mountaineers getting recognition around the world," said Tika Ram Gurung of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, the umbrella body of Nepalese climbers and guides.
Ang Rita was a national hero known as the “snow leopard” and was among the first Sherpa guides internationally recognized for his mountaineering accomplishments. He struggled with his health and had not climbed since setting the Everest record in 1996.
Several mountaineers have surpassed his record since. Kami Rita, who is not related, has scaled the world's highest mountain 24 times.
Ang Rita is survived by a daughter and two sons.