Babu Chhiri Sherpa: Man Who Spent 21 Hours On Everest Summit Without Oxygen

Climbing the tallest mountain in the world is no less than a challenge in itself. Lack of oxygen in the highest altitude of the world will definitely lead to the death of a person who has been habituated to the air conditions of a much lower altitude. However, this was not the case for Babu Chhiri Sherpa, who spent 21 hours on the Everest summit without Oxygen. As much as it may seem impossible, Sherpa really proved to the mountaineering community that with determination and willpower, anything is possible.

If you want to know more about Babu Chhiri Sherpa and his extraordinary experience on the mountain, make sure to read till the end of this article!

Who was Babu Chhiri Sherpa?

Babu Chhiri Sherpa Man Who Spent 21 Hours On Everest Summit Without Oxygen.jpg

Babu Chhiri Sherpa was a Sherpa mountaineer. He was born on June 22, 1965, in Taksindu, Solukhumbu District, Nepal. As a child, he did not quite get a chance to explore mountaineering. Like a lot of other people living in Solukhumbu, he was actively engaged in farming activities with his parents, even as a child. Sherpa did not attain any formal education throughout his life as there weren’t any schools around his residence at that time. Since he was so eager to read and write from a very young age, it became a dream for him to open a school when he was old enough. Similarly, he taught himself to read and write even as a young boy.

Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, from the same origins and place as him, was his biggest influence growing up. Though Babu did not get any chance to explore the mountains as a child, the mountains had always been a topic of fascination and beauty for him. Norgay’s achievements really influenced the late mountaineer as a child.

He is best known for making it to Mount Everest and staying at the summit without any supplemental oxygen for an entire 21 hours. Likewise, he also holds the record for the fastest ascent to Mount Everest, which only took him 16 hours and 56 minutes.

Babu Chhiri Sherpa’s Mount Everest Summit without Oxygen

Babu Chhiri Sherpa’s Mount Everest Summit without Oxygen

Babu Chhiri Sherpa spent an entire 21-hour stay at the summit of the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. The altitude of Everest is the highest in the world at 8848m, and it is impossible to even think of making it out alive in such brutal conditions. But, so was not the case for Sherpa, who defied the odds and even slept in the mountain. He returned from Everest all alive and well, which made him an exceptional human case, even in the mountaineering community. Hence, he was then known as the man who spent 21 hours without oxygen at the summit.

He was 33 years old at the time. When he reached the top, he sang the national anthem and paid his respect to Nepal by towering the Nepali flag on the summit. Ang Babu Sherpa of Nomad Expeditions said in an interview, “Chhiri said on the radio that he wants to present the flag and recording of the national anthem to King Birendra.

There has been no official record of anyone who has stayed up in the summit for so long without the aid of an artificial oxygen bottle. The Western mountaineers are all dependent on bottled oxygen, which keeps them alive and breathing throughout their journey. Similarly, many Sherpas use bottled oxygen to keep them from suffering in the mountains. Though there have been several records of Sherpas having gone to the top of the mountain without any artificial oxygen, no one has ever stayed on the mountain for as long as Babu has.

Babu Chhiri really proved that Sherpas are, in fact, “tigers of the snow.”

Babu Chhiri Sherpa Mountaineering

Babu Chhiri Sherpa Mountaineering

Besides staying on Mount Everest for so long, Sherpa has accomplished the summits of different mountains throughout his career as a mountaineer. He has been to Mount Everest for 10 times.

Sherpa started his career as a mountain porter at the age of 16. On his first assignment, he scaled the Amphu Laptsa pass. In only 4 hours, he also summited the Mera Peak. With time and much expertise, he finally started working for Everest expeditions. Furthermore, he has also gone to several summits of Mount Cho Oyu.

Babu Chhiri Sherpa’s Personal Life

Babu Chhiri Sherpa's Personal Life

Sherpa had a family of six daughters and four granddaughters, namely Michele, Amira, Sara, and Jenica, and two grandsons, Chhewang and Urgen. He was also very fluent in languages like Sherpa, Nepali, English, and Hindi. Throughout his life, he has been to places like Canada, China, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan and the United States.

How did Babu Chhiri Sherpa die?

Babu Chiri Sherpa memorial plaque in memorial park near Lobuche, Nepal.
Babu Chiri Sherpa memorial plaque in memorial park near Lobuche, Nepal.

Babu Chhiri Sherpa has climbed Mount Everest for a total of ten times in his life. Hence, he was assigned his eleventh expedition in 2001. It was on an unfortunate day of April 29 in Camp II at the height of 6500m that Babu was taking pictures from the mountain when he fell into a crevasse. Sadly, he never made it out alive from what was supposed to be his eleventh successful summit.

Babu Chhiri Sherpa Legacy


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Even after years of his death, his legacy remains among those in and outside the mountaineering community. Sherpa was a humanitarian and an environmentalist, along with being an accomplished mountaineer. The school that was built in his village was completed only after his death. The Royal Nepali Government inaugurated the Babu Chiri Memorial Museum on September 25, 2005. A statue was erected for Chiri. Financial aid from the Everest Summiteers Association (ESA) and the government, as well as local businesses, social organizations, and individuals, helped in the establishment of both the museum and the statue in Til Ganga, Kathmandu.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who stayed the longest summit of Mount Everest?

Babu Chhiri Sherpa stayed the longest at the summit of Everest.

Can sherpas climb without oxygen?

With years of adaptation and expertise, Sherpas climb without oxygen.

When did Babu Chiri Sherpa climb Mount Everest?

He first climbed the Everest when he was 25 years old.

Who set the fastest ascent record to the Everest?

Babu Chhiri Sherpa set the fastest ascent record to Everest.

How long did Babu Chhiri Sherpa stay in Everest?

Sherpa stayed for a total of 21 hours without any supplemental oxygen.

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