Hong Kong mountaineer Tsang Yin-hung (center), who recorded the world’s fastest ascent of Mount Everest (8,848.86-metre) by a woman in 25 hours and 50 minutes, gestures while posing for pictures along with mountaineers Pemba Dorje Sherpa (second left), Phurba Thiley Sherpa (left), Nima Lhamu Sherpa (second right) and Phurba Tenjing Sherpa (right) as they arrive at an airport in Kathmandu yesterday. — AFP photos

Former Hong Kong schoolteacher Tsang Yin-hung said yesterday she always believed in aiming high after setting a new record for the fastest ascent of Everest by a woman. Tsang scaled the 8,848.86-metre (29,031 feet) mountain in 25 hours and 50 minutes, a Nepal government officer who recorded her time told AFP on Thursday. The 44-year-old reached the summit of the world’s highest peak on May 23 and arrived back in Kathmandu yesterday. “I am… relaxed and happy because I set this target around four years before,” she told AFP. “I have always shared with my students and my friends that if you aim high and expect high, you can achieve high.”

Tsang had tried to reach the summit earlier in May, but was stopped by poor weather conditions when she was at 8,755 meters, her guide Pemba Sherpa said. She had to return to base camp and climb up the mountain again to make her record attempt.Tsang was born in mainland China and her family moved to Hong Kong when she was 10 years old. As a child, Tsang said they lived with “no resources” and sport-which was free to participate in at her school-became her source of joy. “When I was young I used to run on the mountains, play basketball and do other sports,” she said.

This handout photograph shows Hong Kong mountaineer Tsang Yin-hung (left) posing with Hong Kong’s flag at the summit of Mount Everest after she recorded the world’s fastest ascent of Mount Everest by a woman.

She started to train as a mountaineer 11 years ago and summited Everest in 2017 — the first woman from Hong Kong to achieve such a feat. In 2018, Nepali climber Phunjo Jhangmu Lama set the fastest ascent of Everest for a woman with a time of 39 hours 6 minutes. Tsang’s achievement came after Nepal issued a record 408 Everest permits for this climbing season, after last year’s was cancelled due to the pandemic. Several coronavirus cases have been reported at Everest base camp so far as Nepal battles a spike in infections.

Up to 350 people have summited the mountain this spring, the tourism department said. Other records broken this season include the most ascents of Everest, by Nepali climber Kami Rita Sherpa, who broke his own record with his 25th summit. Arthur Muir, 75, became the oldest American to climb the world’s highest peak when he broke Bill Burke’s record set in 2009 at age 67. Four people-two foreign climbers and two Sherpa guides-have died on the mountain so far this year. – AFP