Saray N'kusi Khumalo recently became the first woman from Africa to reach the highest point of Mount Everest.

After fourth attempts, the South African mountaineer finally scaled the world's highest mountain.

She got to the summit on May 16, 2019, according to South African media, News24.

First four times

Khumalo's first attempt was back in 2012. Climbing initiative, Summits with a Purpose, shared details on Facebook writing, "In 2012, Saray summited Mount Kilimanjaro and in the process, raised funds for the Lunchbox Fund. The mountaineering passion took hold and she embarked on a journey to climb the highest peak on each continent, not for herself but the education of African children."

She tried Mount Everest again in 2014 and 2015 but failed because of an earthquake in Nepal and an avalanche. She got close to reaching the summit of the mountain in May 2017 but got injured during inclement weather. She had to be rescued by a helicopter.

While trying to get the top of the world's top mountain, Khumalo climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mera Peak in Nepal and Mount Elbrus traverse in southern Russia.

Despite these victories, she refused to let go off her desire to scale this particular mountain. Writing about her dream to conquer this mountain, she said, "My dream is to go higher and go further for as long as I breathe. To pave a way for my children and other ordinary people, so we may realise and accept that ordinary people like us can achieve extraordinary heights.

"To not think too much about the difficulties on the way but keep focused on the end goal and to take their hand, motivate them to realise that they too may dream the impossible dream."

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Khumalo has also been vocal about wanting to prove that African women are just as capable of climbing Everest. 

"Your gender shouldn't be an issue. Where you come from shouldn't be an issue. How much you have shouldn't be an issue. If you believe in yourself, everyone else will believe in you too," she stated.

She decided to try again in 2019 and finally succeeded. She has dedicated her historic climb to African children urging them to "reach their own individual Everest". 

Khumalo uses climbing to raise money for several good causes. She hopes to reach the seven highest peaks on the seven continents around the world.

Back to South Africa

Khumalo received a hero's welcome at the OR Tambo International Airport on May 27, 2019.

She was met by hundreds of excited supporters who showered her with hugs and shouts of joy.

Speaking at the airport, she said, "Sir [Edmund] Hillary summited this mountain in 1953… How come no African woman has done it? Is it because we are incapable? We can do anything we put our minds to."

Apart from being the first black woman to get to the top of Mountain Everest, she is also a Mandela libraries ambassador, a social entrepreneur, mother of two boys and an executive in one of the distinguished financial institutions in South Africa.

Dangers of Mountain climbing

One of Khumalo's climbing partners, Ravi Thakar, reportedly died after reaching the peak. CNN reports that the death toll for the 2019 climbing season is 11 people is counting.

Statistics show that over 296 mountaineers have died on this mountain since the first climbers' deaths on Everest was recorded in 1922.