She ought to be a household name, at least in the world of mountaineering. But even though Lhakpa Sherpa has reached the summit of Everest six times, more than any woman in the world, she remains a relative unknown. In fact, as a profile in Outside magazine reveals, the 40-ish Nepalese native is living in Hartford, Conn., and working as a 7-Eleven clerk and a house cleaner as she raises two daughters (8 and 13) and an 18-year-old son on her own. The profile details her volatile marriage and divorce from fellow climber George Dijmarescu—she moved to the US to be with him—along with their nasty custody fight and her allegations of physical abuse and threats. And it reveals that Lhakpa is now attempting a seventh summit after a nearly decade-long break from Everest.
“I cannot talk to anybody,” Lhakpa told writer Grayson Schaffer last winter when discussing her struggle to make friends. “I stay in house and I … God, I’m still thinking about the mountain. You know, my God, I need to go to Nepal.” US climber Melissa Arnot, who has reached the Everest summit five times, tells Outside that “I’m not sure why no one knows about her. When I ask around to Nepalis, not many have heard of her." Lhakpa hopes to change that. Though long reluctant to become a public figure, she tells the magazine that she now hopes somebody might make a movie about her life. And she wants to meet Oprah. Click for the full profile. (Read more Mount Everest stories.)