Nepalese climber Lhakpa Sherpa reacts during a press conference on Wednesday before leaving for Mount Everest in Kathmandu, Nepal. She set a world record as the first woman to climb the peak 10 times. Photo by Narendra Shrestha/EPA-EFE
May 13 (UPI) -- Lhakpa Sherpa, a Nepalese single mother who works at a Whole Foods in Connecticut, set a world record on Thursday by becoming the first woman to scale Mount Everest 10 times.
Sherpa, 48, first climbed the world's highest peak 22 years ago, becoming the first Nepali woman to climb and make it down alive. Sherpa was born in Nepal. She married Romanian-born climber George Dijmarescu, with whom she climbed Everest five times.
The couple moved to the United States and eventually divorced in 2015, but Sherpa continued climbing.
"I grew up right next to Everest," Sherpa told BBC News. "I could see it from my home. Everest continues to inspire and excite me."
Even though she was always drawn to the mountain, Sherpa said she was discouraged by her mother to pursue climbing it.
"My mum said I would never get married," Sherpa said. "She warned me that I would become too masculine and undesirable. The villagers told me that it's a man's job and I would die if I tried it."
On Thursday's climb, she was joined by her daughter, 15, at one of Everest base camps. Sherpa said she wants to follow in her footsteps as a climber. Sherpa also holds the record for siblings climbing Mount Everest, being joined on one climb with brother Mingma Gelu, and sister Ming Kipa.
Despite her records and climbing exploits, the single mother of three children works nearly without notice at a Whole Foods store in Hartford, Conn. She raised money for her record-breaking climb on Thursday through crowdfunding.
Now she wants to climb K2 in Pakistan, the world's second-highest peak, to add to her mountaineering conquests.
"I've had a challenging life," Sherpa said. "Mountains made me happy and relaxed. I will never give up. I want young women not to give up."