5 things to know about Saray Khumalo, the first black SA woman to reach top of Mount Everest
South African Saray Khumalo made history on Thursday morning when she reached the highest point on the planet at 05:15 SA time, becoming the first black African woman to scale Mount Everest.
It has been a long journey for Khumalo, who managed this enormous feat on her fourth attempt.
Here are 5 things you should know about SA's Everest heroine:
1. She has been climbing mountains for the past seven years. She has reached the summits of Mount Kilimanjaro (5 896m) in Tanzania (2012), Mera Peak (6 476m) in Nepal (2014), Lobuche East (6 119m) in Nepal (2014), the Mount Elbrus traverse (5 642m) in southern Russia (2014), and the Mount Aconcagua traverse (6 980m) in Argentina (2015).
2. She lives in Johannesburg and is the mother of two boys.
3. Khumalo is an executive at one of the top financial institutions in South Africa.
4. Her previous attempts to reach the top of Mount Everest were all thwarted. In May 2017, Khumalo had to be rescued from Mount Everest by helicopter. She had been injured during inclement weather while trying to reach the summit. She was at an altitude of 8 749m - a mere 99 metres from the Everest summit, making her the record holder of the black African women for 2017 and 2018. In 2015, Khumalo reached Everest Camp 2, but the expedition was abandoned after an earthquake in Nepal. In 2014, she reached the Everest Base camp, but the mountain was closed following an avalanche that claimed the lives of 16 sherpas (trained guides).
5. Khumalo uses climbing to raise money for good causes. So far, she has raised money to build an outdoor gym for Kids Haven worth R200 000 and converted a room into a library for the children; raised funds for The Lunch Box Fund to feed more than 60 000 kids; raised more than R800 000 for The Mandela Library Projects and built a library for Isiziba Primary School in Thembisa, Johannesburg. She continues to campaign for more libraries as she takes steps towards the seven highest peaks on the seven continents around the world.
On Thursday morning, Khumalo continued to progress back to Camp 4 from where she left last night for her ascent, Facebook group Summits with Purpose posted.
"This is when all mental and physical endurance from the training and other mountain experience kicks in. She, like everyone else has been going for over 13 hours." It will be two days before she arrives back to Base Camp and shares with everyone about her awesome achievement," the post read.
Other African women who have summited Mount Everest include South African Cathy O'Dowd and Moroccan Bouchra Baibanou.
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