Dijmarescu and Lakpa Sherpa Pursue Top of the World Double Header
In honor of the 50th
anniversary of the first ascent of K2, Everest veterans Gheorghe Dijmarescu
and his wife, Lakpa Sherpa, hope to become the first couple to reach the
summits of Everest and K2 in the same season. With eight successful summits of
Mt. Everest already under their climbing harnesses, this husband and wife team
believe they are ready to take on mountaineering’s greatest unclimbed link-up.
“I promised myself that if I
climbed Everest three times, then I’m qualified to try K2,” says Dijmarescu,
who has successfully reached the summit of Mt. Everest each of the last five
years. After two years working out the details, Dijmarescu says he is more
Gheorghe Dijmarescu swam the
Danube River, jumped from a moving train and made his way alone through the
Alps to escape the brutality of communist Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu.
Once the defector reached America, Dijmarescu attempted a mid-winter climb of
Mount Washington, drawn by the New Hampshire peak’s reputation for ferocious
weather. That was his first taste of mountaineering. Four years later, in
1999, he reached the summit of Mt. Everest. He has summited the mountain every
year since then, once without supplemental oxygen. He has also reached the
summit of Aconcagua, in Argentina, the highest mountain in the Americas, and
Denali (Mt. McKinley), the highest peak in North America. To date,
Dijmarescu has funded his mountaineering career with money earned in the home
improvement business he runs and operates with his brother.
Lakpa Sherpa grew up with her
nine siblings in Makalu, Nepal, an impoverished village at the foot of the
fifth tallest mountain in world with no roads, school, or medical facility. A
letter the Sherpa wrote with the help of friends convinced the daughter of
the Prime Minister of Nepal to train and organize the first all-Sherpani
Everest expedition. In 2000, as leader of the all-female Sherpa expedition,
she became the first Nepali woman to climb Mount Everest and survive. She was
the only member of the team to reach the summit. Sherpa, who left Makalu on
foot, returned to her village in a helicopter filled with money she had earned
on her climb, much of which she donated to the people of Makalu. At a
reception with the King of Nepal, Sherpa was awarded the medal of the Order of
Gorkha Dakshina Bahu. She is the only woman to have received that honor.
Lakpa Sherpa met Gheorghe Dijmarescu
in Kathmandu at a party commemorating her ascent in
Kathmandu. A year later they married and she joined him in Hartford. Last May
Sherpa and Dijmarescu returned to Mt. Everest together. Lakpa reached the
summit for the third time – more times than any other woman. Her brother, two
cousins and her sister, who, at 15-years-old, became the youngest person ever
to climb the mountain, joined her on last year’s climb. With relatives now
working on high altitude climbs in Nepal, Tibet and Pakistan, Sherpa and
Dijmarescu have become the heart of one of the world’s great families of
high-altitude mountaineers. Lakpa Sherpa’s dream is that, through her mountaineering
accomplishments, she can raise the money needed to build a school and medical
clinic in Makalu so that her people can overcome the illiteracy and poor
medical care that have been her family’s greatest challenges in life.
At the end of March, Sherpa
and Dijmarescu will depart their home in Connecticut en route to Nepal and
then Tibet, where they will make their annual “vacation” climb of Mt. Everest.
This year they will climb the mountain with the Connecticut Everest
Expedition 2004, a team Dijmarescu has helped to conceive and organize. After
completing their climb of Everest in late May, Sherpa and Dijmarescu will rest
and recover in Kathmandu. By mid-June they will be on their way to Pakistan,
where they hope to climb the Abruzzi Spur on K2 by mid-August.
Like other teams attempting
to achieve this first-ever Himalayan double-header this year, Sherpa and
Dijmarescu hope that the conditioning they achieve on Mt. Everest will give
them a head start on their climb of K2 and an advantage up high. They plan to
start climbing soon after their arrival in basecamp.
“I would trade 5 Everest
summits for one K2,” Says Dijmarescu. “To me, it’s much more valuable.”
To offer support or
assistance for Gheorghe and Lakpa’s historic climb, please contact us at