Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Ang Rita Sherpa, the first person to climb Mount Everest 10 times without the aid of an oxygen bottle, died Monday at 72 in Kathmandu after suffering a stroke.
The legendary climber was a local celebrity who had his accomplishments officially documented in the by Guinness Book of World Records in 2017. He earned the nickname "Snow Leopard" for his climbing skills.
Sherpa grew up as a member of the successful Sherpa clan, a group of Himalayan people known for their skill in mountaineering.
He was born in 1948 in the village of Yillajung in eastern Nepal and began climbing at a young age. He later and graduated with a degree in parks, recreation and tourism from Lincoln University in New Zealand.
Sherpa volunteered for nine months in the United States as a volunteer in the National Park Service at Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks before joining The Mountain Institute.
He first climbed Mount Everest while with a Belgian expedition team in 1982 and became the first to climb the mountain five years later in the winter without supplementary oxygen. He retired from climbing in 1996 because of poor health.
Sherpa's oldest son, who was also a climber who scaled Mount Everest several times, died in 2012 after suffering from altitude sickness at a base camp on the mountain.
Despite his fame, Sherpa struggled financially after his retirement from climbing.
"He was soft-spoken and normally did not speak much," journalist Narayan Wagle said. "When we asked questions he answered in few words. In our early days of journalism ... we would meet him and ask him about his mountaineering exploits."