Teenager becomes youngest Hongkonger to conquer Mount Everest and now wants to complete the Explorers Grand Slam
Benjamin Chan aims to climb highest summits on all seven continents and reach North and South Pole by end of the year
A 19-year-old student has become the youngest person from Hong Kong to conquer the world’s highest peak.
Benjamin Chan Ka-hei made it to the 8,848-metre (29,029 feet) summit of Mount Everest on Monday, according to International Mountain Guides, the company that arranged Chan’s expedition.
Chan reached the top along with 22 others. The group started its descent at 7.15am Nepal time on Monday. The teenager reached Everest Base Camp, located at about 5,400 metres, on Wednesday morning, according to IMG.
The young mountaineer sent a brief message to his father just before 11am local time that they had arrived at the base camp and were waiting for a helicopter to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.
“In base camp, summitted ... all is well!”
Chan’s older brother, Daniel Chan Ka-chun, described the news as “quite unbelievable that he’s achieved such a feat”.
“We’re excited for him, but also nervous. We just want him to come back safely since we know coming down is actually the hardest part,” he said.
Chan’s expedition to Everest is part of a more ambitious goal: to become the youngest person in the world to climb the highest summits on all seven continents as well as reach the North and South Poles, a feat known as the Explorers Grand Slam.
The Hongkonger, who is taking a gap year after graduating from King George V School, aims to complete everything within the year.
The current record is held by Marin Minamiya, who is from Japan but spent several schooling years in Hong Kong. She completed the feat last April at the age of 20. Minamiya scaled the Everest summit when she was 19.
The youngest person to scale Everest was 13-year-old Jordan Romero, from the United States, in 2010.
More than 8,000 people have reached the summit, but at least 280 climbers have died on the mountain’s treacherous passes over the decades, according to the Himalayan Database.
At least 18 people from Hong Kong have completed the feat, according to experts in the industry. Five of them made the trek for the first time this year, according to mountaineer John Tsang Chi-sing, who was leading two of the climbers.
Tsang, who conquered the summit for the third time last week, said it was one of his most challenging trips.
“My role was different this time – in the past, I climbed by myself, but this time I was the expedition leader,” he said. “I had to take the lead and make sure the two climbers had a successful and safe return. It’s much more pressure than before.”