South Africans on top of the world

3 June 2005

Sibusiso Vilane has reached the summit of Everest for the second time, this time the 8 848m peak from the more difficult North Ridge. He was part of a team that included fellow South African Alex Harris.

The summit was reached at 7.20am (local time) on Friday. The climbers, part of an expedition by British outfit Jagged Globe, spent a little more than an hour on the summit before beginning their descent.

Another South African, Anthony van Marken, summitted with the Alpine Ascents team the previous day.

Two years ago Vilane made history, becoming the first black African to reach the peak of the world’s highest mountain. He is now the first black African to have summitted Everest twice from different approaches.

This was Harris’ third attempt on the mountain the locals call Chomolongma. He was the leader of the ill-fated Discovery Everest expedition that was forced by the weather to turn back when only 350m from the summit in 2003.

With this ascent, Harris becomes only the second South African to have climbed the Seven Summits – the highest mountain on each of the seven continents – after Sean Wisedale.

Wisedale was a member of Harris’ 2003 Discovery expedition, and was able to summit then after joining another team.


When Sibusiso Vilane reached the summit of Mount Everest in 2003, he said he “felt as though I was stepping onto a very sacred place … I fell to my knees weeping”. (Photo copyright 2003 Discovery Everest Expedition)

Vilane, who has dual South African and Swaziland nationalities, was climbing in part to raise funds for three charities, the Birth to Twenty Research Programme at Wits University, the Africa Foundation and the SOS Children’s Village in Swaziland.

The Birth to Twenty Research Programme is an initiative run by the university which examines socio-economic, socio-political, demographic and nutrition transitions taking place in South Africa, according to Wits marketing’s Shirona Hassim.

Speaking before leaving on the expedition in March, Vilane said he wanted to concentrate on his professional speaking when he returned from Everest.

“I would love to get involved with schools around the country, to motivate and inspire the youth to believe in their dreams and make them a reality”, he said.

SouthAfrica.info reporter