updated 5/31/2005 7:01:07 PM ET 2005-05-31T23:01:07

A Sherpa guide broke his own record and scaled Mount Everest for the 15th time on Tuesday, followed by 24 other climbers who also reached the world’s highest peak, officials said.

Appa, 48, who like most Sherpas uses only one name, was leading a team of Western mountaineers and other Sherpa guides to the 29,035-foot peak.

Four Australians, three Americans, three Japanese, two Koreans and a British climber, along with Appa and 11 other Nepalese Sherpa guides also stood on the world’s highest point Tuesday, the Mountaineering Department said, quoting reports from the mountain.

Like most Sherpas, Appa grew up in the foothills of Everest, and began carrying equipment and supplies for trekkers and mountaineers at an early age.

Appa first climbed Everest in 1989 with a New Zealand team led by Rob Hall, an experienced climber and one of eight mountaineers who died during a storm in 1996 when approaching the summit. He last reached the summit in 2004.

This year’s climb was Appa’s 15th to the top of Everest, topping three other Sherpas who have scaled the mountain 10 times. Only one of the others is still active.

Sherpas were mostly yak herders and traders living in the Himalayas until Nepal opened its borders to tourism in 1950. Their stamina and knowledge of the mountains makes them expert guides and porters for foreign mountaineers.

Year of treacherous weather
The climbing season on the world’s tallest peak traditionally ends May 31. But a long spell of bad weather recently broke, offering a late chance at the summit — so climbers have agreed among each other to keep the route open for a few more days.

Weather on Everest has been treacherous this year. It improved briefly this week, and at least 48 climbers made it to the top on Monday.

They included eight Iranians, eight Americans, three Koreans, a Canadian and a Mexican climber, as well as one Nepalese woman and 26 Sherpa guides. All have safely returned to lower camps.

Summer warmth has been melting snow and ice, making the climbing surface unstable and dangerous, said Wongchu Sherpa of the Everest Summiteers Association in Katmandu.

Officials and expedition Web sites on Tuesday reported worsening weather on the mountain, with wind and fresh snow.

Since New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953, more than 1,400 climbers have scaled the peak. About 180 people have died trying.

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