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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Record-breaking climber back home

Kristin Harila, Norway’s new mountain-climbing sensation, landed in Oslo during the night after setting a new world record for reaching 14 summits over 8,000 meters high in just 92 days. The triumphant adventurer from Finnmark was keen to share the glory with her “dedicated climbing partner,” Tenjin “Lama” Sherpa.

Kristin Harila set huge goals for herself and met them, climbing all of the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000 meters during the past three months. PHOTO: kristinharila.com

“The most important is that we managed to reach all 14 summits in three months and a day, that we all got safely down again, are in good shape and did this together,” Harila told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), which was among those meeting her at the airport along with her proud father John Petter Harila, her sweetheart Jens Kvernmo, and their dog.

“I’m excited and relieved, and very proud of her,” her father, a sportsman himself, told NRK. He had stated earlier that he doesn’t think “those of us, outside the climbing community, can fully understand the bredth of what she has accomplished.”

Kristin Harila herself gave lots of credit to the “esteemed Sherpa,” claiming that his “invaluable expertise and profound connection with the mountains” were “integral” to their success in navigating treacherous terrain and facing harsh weather conditions. He’s from Makalu in Nepal and has been working as a mountaineer since he was 16 years old.

Harila is proud of her Norwegian and Sami heritage from Finnmark, and has had both flags with her on her expeditions. PHOTO: kristinharila.com

Both expressed their gratitude to supporters worldwide after they reached their 14th summit, the iconic K2, last Thursday. That marked “an historic milestone” in their mountaineering journey that began in April. “I couldn’t have done this without Lama,” Harila told her spokeswoman Rigmor Berthier after they’d reached the summits of Shishapangma in Tibet on April 26, Mount Everest and Lhotse on May 23rd, Annapurna on June 5th, K2 on July 27 and nine other peaks over 8,000 meters in between.

Harila is from the relatively flat town of Vadsø in Northern Norway, and has had a passion for the outdoors since childhood. NRK has reported earlier on how she grew up on a farm at Vestre Jakobselv in Vadsø, just 11 meters above sea level, but she was keen on cross-country skiing and hiking. In 2015, she won a trek up Kilimanjaro through her job at the time. Reaching Africa’s highest peak set off a craving for more.

Harila is known for setting new goals for herself, and after resigning from her day job in 2019, she was determined to pursue her dream of climbing all the world’s highest peaks. She conquered summits over 6,000 meters in Argentina and Nepal, and stood atop Mount Everest (elevation 8,848 meters) for the first time on May 23, 2021, then the neighbouring summit Lhotse (elev 8,516) in record time. The dream of climbing all “8,000ers” at once was born.

That’s what she’s now achieved, right down to the day when it came to Everest and Lhotse, both conquered again on May 23 of this year.

The 37-year-old climber told NRK that it felt “unreal” to be back in Norway, after not being home since February. She was looking forward to a party in Oslo on Thursday “and some time with the family, Jens and friends.” She added that she also may travel to Kathmandu to “celebrate with the team” there. Harila thanked all of them, her commercial sponsors and other contributors. A documentary on the entire project is in the works.

At least one other Norwegian, adventurer Børge Ousland, could fully appreciate her triumph. “This is one of the greatest in the expedition world for many years,” Ousland told NRK. “She sets high goals and just meets them. It’s so impressive, and we can only congratulate her.”

NewsinEnglish.no/Nina Berglund

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