On May 13, Nepali climber Lhakpa Sherpa set a new record for scaling Mount Everest for the eighth time! She reached the summit point at around 6:30 a.m. on that Saturday morning from the Tibetan side of the mountain. The mother of three wanted to prove that Nepali women have the courage and endurance to succeed despite their hardships.
Born and raised in Makalu, Nepal, 13,000 feet above sea level, Lhakpa was born a Sherpa, the name for the group of people from the most mountainous region of Nepal, the Himalayas. Like many Sherpa women born in the 70s, she did not receive an education, and cannot drive, read, or write (though she is now learning). Since she was not required to go to school, Lhakpa began working around the mountain at a very young age.
In 2000, her first excursion, Lhakpa became the first Nepali woman to summit Mt. Everest and make it back alive. Since then, she has summited Everest seven times, including her most recent ascent. This staggering record is higher than any other woman’s in the world!
However, few are aware of her climbing accomplishments. This is largely due to the abusive marriage she was in with Romanian-American climber, George Dijmarescu. In 2004, she was assaulted by Dijmarescu during an expedition. After that, she had been unwilling to speak to reporters about her success until she divorced him two years ago.
“The relationship was good before I had [our] children,” she said on the witness stand last year when she was fighting for the custody of their two girls. Lhakpa also has an 18-year-old son from a previous engagement. “Once I had children, he started hitting me.”
The two met at a party after Lhakpa climbed Everest for the second time. After that, Lhakpa and Dijmarescu climbed together for Lhakpa’s third through sixth ascents.
During their marriage, Dijmarescu was verbally and mentally abusive to Lhakpa and the girls. He even told Lhakpa on multiple occasions that he would kill her, the kids, and himself if she won for custody of the kids.
She won and she is not afraid.
Mountain climbers have to have incredible amounts of mental strength to succeed in their expeditions, and from dealing with both an abusive relationship and Everest simultaneously, there is no doubt that Lhakpa possess the mental and physical strength to overcome anything.
“I feel stronger while being on the mountain,” she said before leaving for her eighth expedition last month.
With no formal training, Lhakpa has climbed in fierce winds, whiteouts, and even made the climb eight months after the birth of her first daughter. Clearly there is nothing that she cannot handle.
Now living in Hartford, Connecticut, Lhakpa plans to scale the mountain at least ten times in her lifetime, but knowing the strength and valor that she possesses, she will undoubtedly surpass that goal. For now, she is happy to have her freedom and her girls, but she says that she would like to see the story of her life become a movie one day.
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