American explorer sets new official record of most first ascents

The 31 mountains ranged in height from 16,000 to over 19,000ft.

By: PTI | Kathmandu | Published:November 15, 2016 4:55 pm

American explorer Sean Burch has set a new world record by making the most first ascents of previously unclimbed mountains in Nepal. Burch, who worked with local indigenous Nepalese from Humla district to stimulate income generation and promote tourism in the country, made 31 first ascents in 21 days climbing in previously unexplored, mountain regions within the Kangnun Himal, Chandi Himal, Changla Himal and Valley regions of western Nepal.

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Burch spent 12 to 16 hours a day climbing, battled severe winds, high altitude, snowstorms, trench foot, frostbite, and extreme hypothermia and a helicopter evacuation was made by the American Embassy in Kathmandu due to an unplanned overnight bivouac in sub-freezing temperatures, according to a press release.

Due to severe weather conditions and failing communication with his logistic team, he was forced to survive overnight on the side of a mountain without food and shelter.

The 31 mountains ranged in height from 16,000 to over 19,000ft. “21st century exploration does exist, and it’s here in Nepal,” said Burch, who was named Honorary Goodwill Ambassador to Nepal’s Tourism Year in 2011 by the government for his humanitarian efforts within the country.

“I wanted to help with the recovery and revival of the tourism sector, to send a positive message to the world that Nepal is safe and open for tourists, Burch said. “I also wanted to document uncharted mountains high enough to be unspoiled and away from humans in order to show climate change as it occurs in real-time,” he said.

In addition to his efforts to promote tourism in Nepal, Burch is in partnership with The Nepal Trust, to raise awareness for the development of women and child health in Humla. Burch currently holds 7 World Records within fitness and adventure.