A Nepali guide on Monday reached the top of Mount Everest for the 27th time, equalling the record for the most ascents of the world's highest peak.

Pasang Dawa Sherpa, 46, is now tied with famed Nepali climber Kami Rita Sherpa, and the race between the two for the most Everest summits has captivated the mountaineering community.

Pasang Dawa reached the Everest summit -- at 8,849 metres (29,032 feet) -- for the 26th time only last week, matching Kami Rita's record.

But the 53-year-old Kami Rita, who is known as "The Everest Man", took the lead again in two days with his 27th ascent.

"Pasang Dawa Sherpa reached the summit today with Chinese clients. This was his 27th summit," his expedition organiser, Imagine Nepal Trek and Expedition, told AFP.

After first climbing Everest in 1998, Pasang Dawa has reached the summit almost every year, sometimes even twice in the same climbing season.

He may not share the record for long, however: Kami Rita is expected to climb Everest again this week.

Nepal is home to eight of the world's 10 highest peaks and welcomes hundreds of adventurers each spring, when temperatures are mild and often treacherous Himalayan winds are typically calm.

Nepal has issued 478 permits for Everest to foreign climbers this season, which runs until early June.

Since most will need a guide, more than 900 people in total will try to summit.

Nepali guides, usually ethnic Sherpas from the valleys around Everest, are considered the backbone of the climbing industry and bear huge risks to carry equipment and food, fix ropes and repair ladders.

More than 450 climbers have already scaled Everest, according to Nepal's Department of Tourism.

This season, 10 climbers, including four Nepali guides, have lost their lives on Everest.