Saray Khumalo braved the tallest mountain above sea level and made history as the first black African woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
This was no easy journey for the 47-year-old. After three attempts were thwarted by nature’s interventions, she finally rose to the summit of the 8 848-meter mountain that sits in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas,
What time did Saray Khumalo reach the summit?
Summits with a Purpose, a non-profit organisation that supports expeditionists, reported on Facebook, that on Thursday, 5:15 (around 9:00 in Nepal), Khumalo reached the top of the world.
The 47-year-old was born in Zambia but grew up in Johannesburg. She is a mother of two boys and has always expressed her need to inspire girls “to aim higher in all aspects of life.”
In her biography on Expeditionist, Khumalo wrote that her executive position in a corporate company plays a little role in helping young girls realise their potential.
“One of my goals for the Climbing the Seven summits with a purpose is to be an example to African girls; to inspire them to pursue their dreams and summit their everyday peaks in education, sports and other spheres of life,” she said.
Khumalo’s Mount Everest attempts
2014’s deadly avalanche
Her first attempt at mounting the Everest was marred by an avalanche that would later claim the lives of 16 sherpa (one of the ethnic groups native to the most mountainous regions of Nepal and the Himalayas).
However, from that shortfall, she managed to raise funds for her Lunch Box Fund, a campaign that fed over 60 000 children.
2015’s earthquake in Nepal
She tried again in 2015 but the earthquake that hit Nepal thwarted those plans.
That miss did not discourage her from conquering Aconcagua, a mountain that stands tall at 6 962m in Mendoza, Argentina. With the funds she raised from that, Khumalo built a library for a primary school in Thembisa, Johannesburg.
2017’s near grasp of the summit
Khumalo would give Mount Everest a go again in 2017.
What Khumalo will be remembered for
She had made it to about 100m from the summit but was forced to abandon her efforts after she suffered health problems due to exposure.
She was airlifted to safety that was that. Khumalo’s resilience has allowed her the patience and strength she needed to conjure up the fourth attempt. This time, she stands — we say it again so it can sink in — as the first black African woman to scale the world’s tallest mountain above sea level