KATHMANDU, Nepal — A Norwegian who just became the fastest climber to scale all the world’s 14 highest mountains announced she was retiring from climbing high peaks on Saturday upon her return to Nepal.
Kristin Harila along with her Sherpa guide Tenjin were given a hero’s welcome at the Kathmandu airport where hundreds including mountaineers, government officials and well-wishers gathered to welcome them back with cheers and flower garlands.
Harila and Tenjin scaled Mount K2 in Pakistan last week, thus concluding the climb of the 14th peak — that is more than 8000 meters (about 26,000 feet) — high in 92 days, shattering the previous record of 189 days.
“I don’t think I will try any eight-thousand meters for a while.” Harila said. “I have done 28 eight-thousand meters in total so I think I have done my part.”
The 37-year-old climber began the mission of setting a new record in April by scaling Mount Shishapangma followed by other peaks in China as well as Nepal, including Mount Everest. She then moved on to Pakistan to complete her list of climbs.
This year was her second attempt to set the record of becoming the fastest climber of the 14 peaks.
Harila had initially begun her world record attempt in April 2022 with the aim of completing it by September. But she only managed 12 peaks after Chinese authorities restricted foreign travel to the country because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am going to do running in the mountains and have already signed up for a race,” she said of her immediate plans.
Harila said Mount K2, the last one on her list was the most difficult one to tackle. K2 is the second-highest peak in the world.
Harila said that weather conditions usually dictate how difficult a climb can be and this year they faced “very hard conditions on K2” because of “ very deep snow.”
The last record for the fastest climb of the 14 peaks was held by Nirmal Purja, a Nepal-born British citizen who scaled them in 189 days in 2019, beating the previous record of more than seven years set by a South Korean climber. Purja’s climbs were later adapted into a popular Netflix documentary, “14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible.”