Australian climbs Everest, sets fastest seven summit record - hiking official

(This version of the May 14th story corrects paragraph five to say Carstensz Pyramid is located in Indonesian New Guinea, not Papua New Guinea)

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Australian Steve Plain became the fastest climber to scale the highest peaks in seven continents, taking 117 days for a feat popularly called the “Seven Summits”, after he scaled Mount Everest early on Monday, his expedition company in Nepal said.

Plain, 36, from Albury, Australia, reached the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) peak of the world’s tallest mountain after climbing more than seven hours from the final camp, at the 8,000 m (26,246-foot) South Col, to claim the record.

“He has set the record of climbing Seven Summits in the shortest time of 117 days,” said Ishwari Paudel, an official of the Himalayan Guides hiking company that handled logistics for the climber. Few details of the climb were available.

A Polish climber held the previous record of 126 days to complete the Seven Summits.

Apart from Everest, the six highest peaks are Denali (North America), Elbrus (Europe), Vinson (Antarctica), Aconcagua (South America), Kilimanjaro (Africa) and Indonesian New Guinea’s Carstensz Pyramid (Australasia/Oceania).

A Chinese climber also set a new record on Monday, becoming the first double amputee to summit Everest from the Nepali side of the peak.

Xia Boyu, 70, first tried to reach the top in 1975 but lost both his legs in the process due to frostbite. Subsequent attempts in 2014, 2015 and 2016 failed, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.

The only other double amputee to have summited Everest was Mark Inglis from New Zealand in 2006 from the peak’s Tibet side.

More than 340 foreigners, each paying $11,000 for a climbing permit, and their sherpa guides, are at the Everest base camp or other high camps in Nepal.

The peak, first scaled by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953, can also be climbed from Tibet, where about 180 climbers are waiting to ascend.

The month of May, before the onset of the rainy season, is the best month for climbing Everest.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Additional reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Clarence Fernandez